Purpose: Identify how parental characteristics impact specialty therapy service utilization among children between the ages of 1-17 from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH).

Methods: Data for this study included 50,212 parents from a nationally representative sample and 1,158 parents in the state of Virginia where characteristics were identified that negatively influenced the utilization of specialty therapy services for child.

Results: Of 1,158 children between the ages of 1-17 years in Virginia, 9.5% of children needed special therapy such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy. Of those children in need of special therapy services, 3.6% did not receive the necessary health resources. Impacting variables associated with the needed health care not received included, coordination of care among health care providers or services (75%), health care costs (58.3%), difficulties paying for child’s medical bills (88.9%) and complications accumulating necessary specialist care (83.3%).

Conclusions: Long-lasting consequences will arise if children are not receiving early intervention specialty services such as educational and employment disadvantages, low socioeconomic status, and poor health outcomes. This analysis suggests public health concerns should be focused on what parental characteristics directly impact specialty therapy services among children and what type(s) of intervention services would promote the uptake of services to improve health outcomes.



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