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Matern Child Health J. 2014 Apr;18(3):672-80. doi: 10.1007/s10995-013-1292-z.

The relationship between the medical home and unmet needs for children with autism spectrum disorders.

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Department of Health Psychology, University of Missouri, 421 Lewis Hall, Columbia, MO, 65211, USA,


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between having access to a medical home and unmet needs for specialty care services for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Parents of children enrolled in a national autism registry were invited to complete an online Access to Care Questionnaire. The resulting sample consisted of 371 parents-child dyads. Bivariate and hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to determine whether having a medical home was associated with the number of unmet needs for specialty care. Less than one in five children with ASD had a medical home (18.9%). Nearly all parents reported that their child had a personal doctor or nurse as well as a usual source of care, but less than one-third received coordinated care (29.9%) and less than one-half received family-centered care (47.1%). Many children had unmet needs (63%), and the highest unmet need was for behavioral therapy. Having a medical home was associated with fewer unmet specialty care needs, even after demographic, child and family characteristics were taken into account. Children with ASD who have a medical home are more likely to have adequate access to needed services. Unfortunately, relatively few children have a medical home that includes family-centered and coordinated care. Enhancements in the delivery of primary care for children with ASD may make a real difference in access to needed specialty care services, potentially improving child and family outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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