Children with special health care needs with disabilities have greater unmet health care needs than those without disabilities

Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381

Children with special health care needs (CSHCN) who also have disabilities (at least one functional limitation) form a special subset of CSHCN. Compared with other CSHCN, these children are more likely to have behavioral problems (39.6 percent vs. 25.2 percent), anxiety/depressed mood (46.1 percent vs. 24.0 percent), and trouble making and keeping friends (38.1 percent vs. 15.6 percent), according to researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, who have developed a wide-ranging profile of this group.

They found that only 32.2 percent of CSHCN with disabilities were receiving care within a medical home compared with more than half of the other CSHCN. In addition, only 48.8 percent of CSHCN with disabilities reported adequate care coordination compared with 73.5 percent of other CSHCN. CSHCN with disabilities also had statistically higher odds of unmet need for the following services: specialty care, mental health services, physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or speech therapy, medical supplies, durable medical equipment, and communication aids.

In 2005-2006, 13.9 percent of children in the United States had special health care needs. Of these children, 21.5 percent qualified as having at least 1 functional limitation. Children overrepresented in this group include boys, minority children, children living near or in poverty, uninsured and publicly insured children, children living in households headed by a single mother, and children living in homes in which the highest educational attainment was high school or less. This study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11716).

See "Profiling health and health-related services for children with special health care needs with and without disabilities" by Amy J. Houtrow, M.D., Megumi J. Okumura, M.D., Joan F. Hilton, Sc.D., and Roberta S. Rehm, Ph.D., in the November-December 2011 Academic Pediatrics 11(6), pp. 508-516.

Current as of May 2012
Internet Citation: Children with special health care needs with disabilities have greater unmet health care needs than those without disabilities: Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381. May 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/may12/0512RA26.html