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Parents of hospitalized children with chronic illnesses report fewer care-related problems than other parents

Parents of children in poor health or with chronic conditions typically report lower quality of care for their children than other parents. However, a new study, supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00063), of hospitalized children found that parents of children with chronic conditions report fewer care-related problems than parents of children in poor health without chronic conditions. This may be due to the more frequent health care interactions and better continuity of care experienced by children with chronic conditions, suggest the Johns Hopkins University researchers.

They analyzed survey responses of 12,562 parents of children receiving care at 39 hospitals from 1997 through 1999. The survey asked 62 questions about 7 aspects of care: physician-parent partnership, coordination of care, information to parents, information to the child, physical comfort, confidence and trust, and care continuity and transition. Parents of children in the best health tended to rate care highly, whether or not their children had chronic conditions.

Even though 51 percent of parents reported that their child had a chronic health problem, most of the parents rated their child's inpatient care as excellent (47 percent) or very good (32 percent), with the remainder rating the care as good (15 percent), fair (5 percent) or poor (nearly 2 percent). Parents whose children were in fair or poor health with nonchronic conditions reported the lowest quality of care. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of parents felt that their child was not given adequate information and 20 percent of parents considered the parent-physician partnership to be unsatisfactory as the problems most strongly associated with care ratings.

See "Quality of health care for children: The role of health and chronic illness in inpatient care experiences," by Jennifer W. Mack, M.D., M.P.H., John Patrick T. Co, M.D., M.P.H., Donald A. Goldmann, M.D., and others, in the September 2007 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 161(9), pp. 828-834.

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