The health care patterns of 158 children attending a medical specialty clinic at least twice a year were studied. The families were interviewed about (1) use of a primary care source, (2) continued contact with the referring physician, and (3) perceived health needs. For almost one third of the children, no source of primary care was reported. This group contained a higher percentage of older children and children from the urban center than did the group as a whole. No differences were attributable to insurance coverage. Of patients referred by a primary care provider, 62% were still in contact with that provider, whereas only 20% referred from another hospital-based program were still in touch with that program. Of the children attending specialty clinics 60% had other perceived health needs. Thirty-eight percent of the families reported health problems that they had never discussed with any medical provider. This study indicates that a large proportion of children with frequent attendance at specialty clinics perceive the hospital as the source of all their care. Health planners and providers need to take this patient perception into account as they design and manage programs for chronically ill children.
- Received December 16, 1978.
- Accepted June 13, 1979.
- Copyright © 1980 by the American Academy of Pediatrics