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A Systematic Review of the Medical Home for Children Without Special Health Care Needs

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To conduct a systematic review of the evidence associating the medical home with beneficial health outcomes in healthy children. The English-language pediatric literature 1975–2011 was searched via PubMed, Embase and CINAHL. Inclusion criteria (the medical home as an independent variable, individual-level quantitative analysis, outpatient setting in the US, healthy children) and exclusion criteria (age >18, medical home operationalized with only one American Academy of Pediatrics component) were determined a priori. Presence of a medical home was examined in relation to three outcome measures: primary care services, health care utilization, and child well-being. Of 4,856 unique citations, 9 studies were included in the final systematic review, amassing 290,180 children from 6 data sources. Two drew on prospective cohort data; the remainder, on cross-sectional design. Children with a medical home were more likely to receive preventive medical care (2 studies), anticipatory guidance (1 study), and developmental screening (1 study); to have higher health-related quality of life (1 study); and were less likely to seek care in the emergency department (2 studies). The medical home was associated with full immunization status in only 1 of 4 studies examining this outcome. No protective effect of the medical home was found with regard to preventable hospitalization (1 study). The medical home is associated with beneficial health outcomes among healthy children. However, the evidence is limited in comparison with that for children with special health care needs. As healthy children represent the majority of the pediatric population, this lack of evidence represents a significant knowledge gap.

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Dr. Long was supported by the National Research Service Award Grant 6 T32 HP 10263-01 from the National Institutes of Health and by the Physician Faculty Development in Primary Care Grant D5CHP20644 from the Department of Health and Human Services. We thank James Moses, MD, MPH, Jason Vassy, MD, MPH, and Leslie Bradford, MD, for contributions and thoughtful review of this manuscript.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest relevant to this article to disclose.

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Correspondence to Webb E. Long.

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Hadland, S.E., Long, W.E. A Systematic Review of the Medical Home for Children Without Special Health Care Needs. Matern Child Health J 18, 891–898 (2014).

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