Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 467–477 | Cite as

Optimizing Health and Health Care Systems for Children with Special Health Care Needs Using the Life Course Perspective

  • Christina D. Bethell
  • Paul W. Newacheck
  • Amy Fine
  • Bonnie B. Strickland
  • Richard C. Antonelli
  • Cambria L. Wilhelm
  • Lynda E. Honberg
  • Nora Wells
Article

Abstract

To date, life course research in maternal and child health has largely focused on elucidating fetal and early life influences on adult health and less on promoting the health of children with special health care needs (CSHCN). Consideration of life course theory (LCT) for CSHCN is especially important given their increasing prevalence and comorbidity, their disproportionate vulnerability to weaknesses or instability in the health care system, and the growing evidence linking child and adult health and quality of life. In this commentary we seek to advance the consideration of LCT for CSHCN. We (1) briefly summarize key issues and the importance of a life course approach for CSHCN; (2) present illustrative findings from population-based cross-sectional data that serve to generate hypotheses that can be more rigorously examined when population-based longitudinal data become available; and (3) discuss the application of life course principles as a driving force in the continued implementation and improvement of integrated systems of care for CSHCN.

Keywords

Life course Children Children with special health care needs Health care quality Medical home 

Abbreviations

LCT

Life course theory

CSHCN

Children with special health care needs

NSCH

National Survey of Children’s Health

NS-CSHCN

National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs

EBD

Emotional, behavioral or development problems

MCHB

Maternal and Child Health Bureau

SDBS

Standardized developmental and behavioral screening

DBS

Developmental, behavioral and/or social

IFSP

Individualized Family Services Plan

IEP

Individualized Education Plan

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina D. Bethell
    • 1
  • Paul W. Newacheck
    • 2
  • Amy Fine
    • 3
  • Bonnie B. Strickland
    • 4
  • Richard C. Antonelli
    • 5
  • Cambria L. Wilhelm
    • 1
  • Lynda E. Honberg
    • 4
  • Nora Wells
    • 6
  1. 1.The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement InitiativeOregon Health and Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics, Philip R Lee Institute for Health Policy StudiesUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Study of Social PolicyWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Maternal and Child Health BureauHealth Resources and Services AdministrationRockvilleUSA
  5. 5.Division of General Pediatrics, Harvard Medical SchoolChildren’s Hospital BostonBostonUSA
  6. 6.Family VoicesLexingtonUSA

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