Family impacts among children with autism spectrum disorder: the role of health care quality

Acad Pediatr. 2014 Jul-Aug;14(4):398-407. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2014.03.011.


Objective: To compare health care quality and family employment and financial impacts among children with special health care needs (CSHCN) with autism spectrum disorder (CSHCN + ASD), CSHCN with functional limitations (CSHCN + FL), and CSHCN lacking these conditions (other CSHCN); to test whether high health care quality was associated with reduced family impacts among CSHCN + ASD.

Methods: Data from the 2009-2010 National Survey of CSHCN were used to compare 3025 CSHCN + ASD, 6505 CSHCN + FL, and 28,296 other CSHCN. Weighted multivariate logistic regression analyses examined 6 age-relevant, federally defined health care quality indicators and 5 family financial and employment impact indicators. Two composite measures were additionally used: 1) receipt of care that met all age-relevant quality indicators; and 2) had ≥ 2 of the 5 adverse family impacts.

Results: Across all health care quality indicators, CSHCN + ASD fared poorly, with only 7.4% meeting all age-relevant indicators. CSHCN + ASD had worse health care quality than other CSHCN, including CSHCN + FL. CSHCN + ASD also had high rates of adverse family impact, with over half experiencing ≥ 2 adverse impacts. Rates of adverse family impact were higher in CSHCN + ASD than other CSHCN, including CSHCN + FL. Among CSHCN + ASD, those whose health care that met federal quality standards were less likely to have multiple adverse family impacts than CSHCN + ASD whose health care did not meet federal quality standards.

Conclusions: CSHCN + ASD are more prone to experience poor health care quality and family impacts than other CSHCN, even CSHCN + FL. Receipt of care meeting federal quality standards may potentially lessen adverse family impacts for CSHCN + ASD.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; children with special health care needs; delivery of health care; disabled children; family burden; family health; financial burden; integrated; quality of health care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / economics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness
  • Disabled Children / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States