Pediatric Specialty Care Shortage Creates Lower Perceived Need for It

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Specialty Care Shortage Leads to Lower Perceived Need for It
Specialty Care Shortage Leads to Lower Perceived Need for It

(HealthDay News) — Children with special health care needs living in counties with lower subspecialty supply have lower perceived need for subspecialty care, according to a study published online May 5 in Pediatrics.

Kristin N. Ray, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues calculated pediatric subspecialists per capita in each U.S. residential county. The National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs (2009–2010) was used to assess the association between quintile of pediatric subspecialty supply and parent-reported subspecialty utilization, perceived subspecialty need, and child and family disease burden.

The researchers found that county-level pediatric subspecialty supply ranged from a median of 0 (lowest quintile) to 59 (highest quintile) per 100,000 children. Children in the lowest quintile of supply were 4.8% less likely to report ambulatory subspecialty visits (P<0.001), 5.3% less likely to perceive subspecialty care needs (P<0.001), and 2.3% more likely to report emergency department visits (P=0.018), compared to children in the highest quintile, after adjusting for other factors.

"Children living in counties with the lowest supply of pediatric subspecialists had both decreased perceived need for subspecialty care and decreased utilization of subspecialists," the authors write.

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