Objective: To determine associations in health status and health care utilization between mothers and their children.
Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of the 1996-97 Community Tracking Study Household Survey. Separate logistic regression models describing each type of service use were conducted and adjusted for child age, health status, mother age, race, education, and respondent type. Models incorporated maternal health care use, employment, poverty, child's insurance status, and family type as independent variables.
Results: Sample included 9803 mother-child pairs, for a weighted sample of 35 651 048 pairs. Compared to mothers reporting excellent health, mothers reporting very good to good health status and fair or poor health were more likely to have children in good, fair, or poor health (odds ratio 2.00, 95% confidence interval 1.63-2.45; and odds ratio 4.16, 3.36-5.15, respectively). For each of 5 types of service use, mothers' and children's use were strongly associated: 1+ physician visits (2.42, 2.07-2.84); 6+ physician visits (2.07, 1.80-2.37); emergency department use (2.01, 1.75-2.31); hospitalizations (1.56, 1.10-2.22); and mental health visits (7.07, 5.67-8.82).
Conclusions: Associations in health service use were noted across a broad array of services for women and their children. These associations may reflect similar tendencies to seek care and suggest the need to consider patterns of maternal use in trying to understand and improve patterns of health care utilization for children.