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Two AHRQ-sponsored datasets—MEPS and HCUP—provide national data on children's health topics
Asthma, injuries, and mental health problems account for more hospitalizations of children over 5 years of age than any other conditions, according to a newly published report. Preschoolers need hospital care mostly for infections, and most hospital care of infants is for birth-related problems. Young people 15 to 17 years of age are hospitalized most often for problems related to pregnancy and childbearing. Uninsured adolescents ages 15 to 17 are most likely to lack a usual source of health care and are least likely to rely on an office-based medical provider. These are some of the findings in the report, which was prepared by Marie C. McCormick, M.D., Sc.D., of Harvard University, and coauthors Barbara Kass, M.P.H., Anne Elixhauser Ph.D., Joe Thompson, M.D., and Lisa Simpson, M.B., B.Ch., M.P.H., all of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The findings are part of a new series of annual reports by AHRQ on access to and use of health care by children and youths in the United States. This first report, which also presents data on health insurance coverage and use of ambulatory care services, appears in a special supplement to the journal Pediatrics (Journal of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association). The statistics in the report are drawn from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) databases, two powerful sources of data that thus far have not been widely used by the child health services research community.
As noted by Dr. Simpson, this report provides researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and child health advocates with a baseline for assessing changes in access to and use of health care services by young people from birth to 18 years of age. To date, the literature has been dominated by information on the elderly mostly because of the power of the Medicare datasets. Child health researchers have had a much more restricted range of data, much of it dated. This first report and other reports that will follow provide enlightenment and encouragement to researchers to explore these new datasets to address important issues in health care for children, concludes Dr. Simpson.
For more information, see "Annual report on access to and utilization of health care for children and youth in the United States—1999," which appears in a supplement to the January 2000 issue of Pediatrics 105, pp. 219-230. Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 00-R014) are available from the AHRQ Clearinghouse.
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