Health care quality-improvement approaches to reducing child health disparities

Pediatrics. 2009 Nov;124 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S224-36. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-1100K.


Relatively few quality-improvement efforts have been aimed at reducing differences in children's care and outcomes across race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and insurance status. To inform quality-improvement efforts to reduce child health disparities, we summarize lessons learned from the adult disparities-intervention literature, identify interventions that have reduced disparities in pediatric asthma outcomes and immunization rates, and outline special considerations for child disparity interventions. Key recommendations for providers, health care organizations, and researchers include: (1) examine your performance data stratified according to insurance status, race/ethnicity, language, and socioeconomic status; (2) measure and improve childhood health-related quality of life, development, and condition-specific targets (such as asthma and immunizations); (3) measure and improve anticipatory guidance for early prevention of conditions (such as injuries, violence, substance abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases) and efforts to promote positive growth (such as readership programs to improve low literacy); (4) measure and improve structural aspects of care that affect child health outcomes and can reduce disparities, such as patient-centered medical-home elements; (5) incorporate families into interventions; (6) use multidisciplinary teams with close tracking and follow-up of patients; (7) integrate non-health care partners into quality-improvement interventions; and (8) culturally tailor quality improvement. A key recommendation for payers is to align financial incentives to reduce disparities. The National Institutes of Health and other funders should support (1) disparity-intervention studies on these recommendations that analyze clinical outcomes, intervention-implementation processes, and costs, and (2) creation of new child health services researchers who can find effective quality-improvement approaches for reducing disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / ethnology
  • Child
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Health Plan Implementation
  • Health Services Research / organization & administration
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / organization & administration
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Patient Care Team
  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration
  • United States