A review of the evidence for the medical home for children with special health care needs

Pediatrics. 2008 Oct;122(4):e922-37. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-3762.


Context: The receipt of health care in a medical home is increasingly touted as a fundamental basis for improved care for persons with chronic conditions, yet the evidence for this claim has not been systematically assessed.

Objective: Our goal was to determine the evidence for the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau recommendation that children with special health care needs receive ongoing comprehensive care within a medical home.

Methods: We searched the nursing and medical literature, references of selected articles, and requested expert recommendations. Search terms included children with special health care needs, medical home-related interventions, and health-related outcomes. Articles that met defined criteria (eg, children with special health care needs, United States-based, quantitative) were selected. We extracted data, including design, population characteristics, sample size, intervention, and findings from each article.

Results: We selected 33 articles that reported on 30 distinct studies, 10 of which were comparison-group studies. None of the studies examined the medical home in its entirety. Although tempered by weak designs, inconsistent definitions and extent of medical home attributes, and inconsistent outcome measures, the preponderance of evidence supported a positive relationship between the medical home and desired outcomes, such as better health status, timeliness of care, family centeredness, and improved family functioning.

Conclusions: The evidence provides moderate support for the hypothesis that medical homes provide improved health-related outcomes for children with special health care needs. Additional studies with comparison groups encompassing all or most of the attributes of the medical home need to be undertaken.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Comprehensive Health Care / methods*
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / organization & administration*
  • Home Care Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • United States