Objectives: The National Survey of Early Childhood Health (NSECH) is a new survey that was designed to provide nationally representative data on the health and development of children and to fill an information gap in the pediatric literature on parents' views of the delivery of health care to their young children.
Design: The selection of topics was guided by previous studies conducted to examine parents' expectations and needs in child health supervision visits. The NSECH is a random-digit-dial telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 2068 children aged 4 to 35 months. This sample includes an oversample of black and/or Hispanic children so that results for these minority groups could be estimated with greater precision. The sampling frame for NSECH is from the State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS), which is a program of surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics that makes economical use of the large sampling frame of the National Immunization Survey (NIS). SLAITS takes advantage of the NIS screening effort by fielding interviews on other health topics with households screened for the NIS. The respondent was the parent or guardian identified as the person most responsible for the sampled child's medical care. Spanish-language interviews composed 19% of all completed interviews. The Council of American Survey Research Organizations response rate was 65.6%.
Conclusion: The NSECH provides a unique data set that allows a well-rounded picture of the health, health care utilization, health care content, and interpersonal quality of health services received by young children in the United States. It also contains important information about family characteristics, patterns of health-promoting behaviors, and family routines that are associated with promoting the developmental health of young children. NSECH results can also help national policy makers understand the health needs of families with young children and how well the health system is meeting those needs.