Objective. To compare and measure the effects and cost-effectiveness of two interventions designed to raise immunization rates.
Settings. Nine primary care sites serving impoverished and middle-class children.
Subjects. Complete birth cohorts (ages 0 to 12 months; n = 3015) from these sites.
Interventions. Two 18-month duration interventions: 1) tracking with outreach [tracking/outreach] to bring underimmunized children to their primary care provider office, and 2) a primary care provider office policy change to identify and reduce missed immunization opportunities (prompting).
Design. Randomized, controlled trial, randomizing within sites using a two-by-two factorial design. Subjects were allocated to one of four study groups: control, prompting only, tracking/outreach only, and combined prompting with tracking/outreach. Outcomes were obtained by blinded chart abstraction.
Measures. Immunization status for age; number of days of delay in immunization; primary care utilization; and rates of screening for occult disease.
Results. Out of 3015 subjects, 274 subjects (9%) transferred out of the participating sites or had incomplete charts and were excluded. The 2741 (91%) remaining subjects were assessed. At baseline, study groups did not differ in age, gender, insurance type, or immunization status. Of the remaining subjects, 63% received Medicaid. Final series-complete immunization coverage levels were: control, 74%; prompting-only, 76%; tracking/outreach-only 95%; and combined tracking/outreach with prompting, 95%. Analysis of variance showed that: 1) tracking/outreach increased immunization rates 20 percentage points; 2) tracking/outreach decreased mean immunization delay 63 days; 3) tracking/outreach increased mean health supervision visits 0.44 visits per child; 4) tracking/outreach increased mean anemia screening 0.17 screenings per child and mean lead screenings 0.12 screenings per child; 5) impact of tracking/outreach was greatest for uninsured and impoverished patients; and 6) the prompting intervention had no impact on the studied outcomes, and its failure was caused by inconsistent use of prompts and failure to vaccinate ill children when prompted.
Using tracking/outreach, the cost per additional child fully immunized was $474. Each $1000 spent on the tracking/outreach intervention resulted in: 2.1 additional fully vaccinated children and 668 fewer child-days of delayed immunization; 4.6 additional health supervision visits and 5.9 additional other visits to the primary care provider; and 1.8 additional anemia screenings and 1.3 additional lead screenings.
Conclusions. Outreach directed toward children not up-to-date on immunizations improves not only immunization status, but also health supervision visit attendance and screening rates. The cost per additional child immunized was high, but should be interpreted in view of the spillover benefits that accompanied improved immunization. Effective means to improve coverage by reducing missed immunization opportunities still need to be identified. immunization, primary care, randomized, controlled trial, missed immunization opportunities, outreach.
- Received July 29, 1997.
- Accepted June 4, 1998.
- Copyright © 1999 American Academy of Pediatrics