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Med Care. 1985 Aug;23(8):946-59.

The impact of social stressors and social networks on pediatric medical care use.


Substantial differences in the use of pediatric medical resources reinforce the need for identifying and understanding factors that influence the use of medical services for children. This research assesses the simultaneous impact of sociodemographic characteristics, health attitudes and beliefs, psychologic distress, social stressors, and social networks on the use of pediatric acute care services during a 12-month period. Using a prospective longitudinal study design, data were obtained on 513 children and their families enrolled in a prepaid group practice. Linear modeling results showed that health attitudes and social networks were important predictors of acute care utilization in addition to child's age, birth order, baseline health status, and ethnic group. The authors were able to show significant effects for network size, dispersion, and tendency to use one's network members. Individuals with large nondispersed networks are more likely to use pediatric health services, apparently due to the transmission of the networks' pro-medical care health beliefs. Also the tendency to call on network members modifies an individual's propensity to seek care for minor pediatric medical problems and can make a difference by as much as 1.6 visits per year per child for acute care episodes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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