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Disabil Health J. 2013 Oct;6(4):325-32. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2013.03.003. Epub 2013 Apr 24.

The effect of special health care needs and health status on school functioning.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA.



Past studies have shown that specific child conditions are associated with poor school outcomes. A national health survey with noncategorical measures of health and indicators of school functioning offers the opportunity to examine this association.


To compare links between two health measures (children with special health care needs and general health status) and multiple school outcomes.


The analysis was based on 59,440 children aged 6-17 years from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health. Child health was assessed using the Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) screener and a question on general health status. CSHCN were classified by the complexity of their health care needs. Indicators of school functioning included special education use, many problem reports, repeated a grade, lack of school engagement, and many missed school days.


Overall 22% of children were identified as CSHCN: 13% with more complex needs (C-CSHCN) and 9% with medication use only (CSHCN-RX). Approximately 17% of children were in less than optimal health. After controlling for a child's sociodemographic characteristics C-CSHCN had an increased risk of all of the negative school outcomes compared to children without SHCN, while CSHCN-RX had an increased risk of only one school outcome (many missed school days). Children in less than optimal health were at an increased risk of all negative school outcomes compared to children in optimal health.


The CSHCN screener and health status question identify related, but distinct, groups of children with worse outcomes on the indicators of school functioning.


Child disability; Child health; National Survey of Children's Health

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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