Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 580-589

First online:

National Disparities in the Quality of a Medical Home for Children

  • Gregory D. StevensAffiliated withKeck School of Medicine, University of Southern California Email author 
  • , Michael SeidAffiliated withDivision of Pulmonary Medicine and Center for Health Care Quality, Division of Health Policy and Clinical Effectiveness, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center
  • , Trevor A. PickeringAffiliated withKeck School of Medicine, University of Southern California
  • , Kai-Ya TsaiAffiliated withKeck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

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Objectives To examine socio-demographic disparities associated with a quality medical home. Methods A nationally representative sample of children ages 0–17 years (n = 102,353) from the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health. Risk factors including non-white race/ethnicity, income <200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), uninsured, parent education lesser than high school, and non-English primary household language, were examined in relation to a quality medical home separately and together as a “profile” of risk. Fourteen questions were used to measure five medical home features: access, continuity, comprehensiveness, family-centered care, and coordination. Quality was defined as a value greater than median for each feature and for an overall score. Results Before and after adjustment for child demographics and health status, all studied risk factors were associated with poorer quality medical home features. Uninsured [odds ratio (OR) = 0.43, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.40–0.47] and low-income children (OR = 0.65, CI: 0.62–0.69) had among the lowest odds of a quality medical home overall and across most features, except coordination that showed an opposite trend. Summarized through risk profiles, children experiencing all five risk factors had 93% lower odds of a quality medical home overall (OR = 0.07, CI: 0.04–0.25) compared to zero risk children. Conclusion This study demonstrates large national disparities in the quality of a medical home for children. That disparities were most prevalent for the uninsured and those in or near poverty, both modifiable risk factors, suggests that reforms to increase coverage and to lift families out of poverty are essential to assuring that children have access to the full complement of appropriate health care services including a quality medical home.


Medical home Primary care Quality of care Disparities SES