Unmet Respite Needs of Children With Medical Technology Dependence

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2019 Oct;58(11-12):1175-1186. doi: 10.1177/0009922819870251.


Children with medical technology dependency (MTD) require a medical device to compensate for a vital body function and substantial nursing care. As such, they require constant high-level supervision. Respite care provides caregivers with a temporary break, and is associated with reduced stress; however, there are often barriers. The study utilizes mixed methodology with the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN) and semistructured interviews with state-wide care coordinators to understand the gap for respite care services. Fifty-nine percent of parents who needed respite care received none. Parents of older children with MTD were more likely to report respite needs. Care coordinators described that home health shortages created barriers to respite care utilization, and the lack of respite care can lead to hospital readmission. Although respite care is a vital resource to support families of children with MTD, it is infrequently available, which can have severe consequences.

Keywords: caregiving; children with disabilities; children with medical complexity; home care; respite care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Children / statistics & numerical data*
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Respite Care / methods*
  • Respite Care / statistics & numerical data