One purpose of the NS-CSHCN is to estimate the prevalence of CSHCN in the population nationally and in each State. The survey identifies CSHCN by asking parents if their child has a medical, behavioral, or other health condition that is expected to last at least one year, and if that condition caused the child to use more medical care, mental health services, or educational services than is usual for most children of the same age; use specialized therapies, mental health counseling, or prescription medications; and/or to be limited or prevented in any way in his or her ability to do things that most children of the same age can do. Children were considered to have special health care needs if their parents answered “yes” to at least one question in each of these three categories. These questions are part of the CSHCN Screener, which was developed by researchers, practitioners, family advocates, and policy makers to identify CSHCN in household surveys.1

Based on the series of screening questions, 15.1 percent of children under 18 years of age in the United States, or approximately 11.2 million children, are estimated to have special health care needs. Overall, 23.0 percent of U.S. households with children have at least one child with special health care needs.

1Bethell C, Read D, Stein RE, Blumberg SJ, Wells N, Newacheck PW. Identifying children with special health care needs: Development and evaluation of a short screening instrument. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 2(1):38-48,2002. Return to text

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