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Caregivers not receiving the help they need, study shows
Date:2/12/2009

not an easy task, and families need help caring for their children with special needs."

For the study, Nageswaran analyzed data collected from the 2001 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. The study used a random sample of U.S. households with children younger than 18. The findings, recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, showed that 24 percent of caregivers who need respite care have unmet needs.

Caregivers of children with severe functional limitations had greater unmet respite care needs than those without limitations, as did caregivers of children with unstable health conditions versus those with stable health conditions, according to the study. In addition, the study shows that caregivers with public insurance have far fewer unmet respite care needs than those with private insurance. Nageswaran suggested that this may be because many private insurance plans are not comprehensive enough to provide support services such as respite care for children with special needs.

"If it is not enough, we need to advocate for more comprehensive insurance coverage for our children," Nageswaran said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that support systems are in place to help caregivers of children with special needs. Yet, the study shows, the respite care needs of one out of four families of caregivers are not met. This translates to approximately 200,000 families with unmet respite care needs in the United States, according to the study.

Of those survey respondents who reported unmet respite care needs, 26 percent reported a lack of availability of services and transportation problems as the reason behind the unmet need, 22 percent said respite care would cost too much and 13 percent reported health care problems as the reason. There are also some caregivers who simply may not report their respite care needs, Nageswaran said, possibly because they feel tha
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Contact: Rae Bush
rbush@wfubmc.edu
336-716-6878
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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