National Indicators > Health Care Needs and Access to Care

Specific Health Care Needs

Like all children, those with special health care needs require preventive health care and dental services and acute care when they are sick. In addition, CSHCN need a variety of other services to manage their conditions, maintain their abilities, and promote their development. To assess the prevalence of need for specific services, parents were asked whether there was a time in the past year when their children needed any of the services listed in the table.

The need most often cited for CSHCN is prescription medication: 86 percent of these children are reported to need prescription drugs. The parents of most CSHCN also recognize their children’s need for preventive dental care (81 percent) and routine preventive medical services (78 percent). Just over half of CSHCN need the care of medical specialists, such as cardiologists or pulmonologists. Other services needed by a smaller proportion of children include eyeglasses or vision care (needed by 33 percent of CSHCN), mental health care (25 percent), dental care other than preventive care (24 percent), and physical, occupational, or speech therapy (23 percent).

Some of the services that are reported infrequently among the population of CSHCN as a whole are much more commonly needed by children whose conditions have a greater impact on their daily lives. Of those children whose conditions affect them usually, always, or a great deal, 47 percent needed specialized therapies such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy, 42 percent needed mental health services, and 63 percent needed specialty medical care.

Other needs vary greatly by age. Preschool-aged children (aged 5 years and under) are much more likely than older children to need home health care (8.0 percent, compared to 3.6 percent of school-aged children and adolescents), durable medical equipment (21 percent, compared to 7.8 percent of adolescents), and hearing aids (7.3 percent, compared to 3.4 percent of adolescents). In addition, the need for specialized therapies declines with age: nearly 30 percent of children aged 5 years and under needed these services, compared to 26 percent of children aged 6–11 years and 17 percent of adolescents aged 12–17 years.

Conversely, adolescents (aged 12–17 years) are more likely to need mental health care (32 percent, compared to 7.8 percent of preschoolers), eyeglasses or vision care (46 percent, compared to 11 percent of preschoolers), and mobility aids (6.1 percent, compared to 2.6 percent of preschoolers).

Back to Top