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Children who lack continuity with a regular health care provider miss needed services
Date:11/23/2009

PORTLAND, Ore. Low-income children who don't access health care from the same place or provider over the long term are significantly more likely to have unmet health care needs compared with those do, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Studies like this are crucial to informing the financing and delivery of quality health care for children, the researchers report.

"In the current policy debates about health insurance reform, much of the focus has been on the importance of stable health insurance. This study confirmed that having a stable usual source of care is also an important factor in accessing needed health care," said Jennifer E. DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil., principal investigator and research professor in family medicine, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.

Previous studies have shown that patients who maintain an ongoing relationship with a primary care facility or provider, also known as a "usual source of care," are more likely to use preventive health care, not use emergency services and have shorter hospital stays. In this study, DeVoe and colleagues expanded on that research by examining whether having a consistent place or person from whom to access regular health care over time affects low-income children's ability to access needed services.

To collect data, they created a statewide survey with questions adapted from several vetted national surveys and sent it to 8,636 families who were enrolled in Oregon's food stamp program at the end of January 2005. One focal child per family was randomly selected for each survey. The researchers received 2,681 completed responses and applied statistical weights to ensure that these responses were representative of the 84,087 households in the food stamp population.

The survey asked parents whether their child had experienced an "unmet need" in the previous 12 months, which the researchers defined as: an unmet medica
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Contact: Tamara Hargens-Bradley
hargenst@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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