Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether having a medical home is associated with a reduction of racial/ethnic disparities in emergency care utilization by children with special health care needs (CSHCN).
Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of 35 301 children, aged 0 to 17, from the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. The primary dependent variable was emergency care utilization, defined as 1 or more emergency care encounters in the last 12 months. The primary independent variables were race/ethnicity and type of care (medical home, usual source of care, no medical home/no usual source of care). Multiple logistic regression was conducted to investigate associations between race/ethnicity, type of care, and emergency care utilization.
Results: Analysis of type of care and its interactions with race/ethnicity showed that non-Hispanic black children with a medical home had higher odds (odds ratio [OR] 1.26, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03-1.54) of emergency care utilization compared with non-Hispanic white children with a medical home. The odds of having 1 or more emergency care visits were higher for non-Hispanic black children (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.22-1.56) compared with non-Hispanic white children after controlling for sociodemographic variables. Having a medical home was associated with lower odds of emergency care utilization (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.72-0.90) compared with having neither a medical home nor a usual source of care.
Conclusions: Emergency care utilization for CSHCN differed significantly according to race/ethnicity. Having a medical home may be associated with a reduction in disparities in this fragile population.