Earlier reports of a randomized controlled trial of the Pediatric Home Care (PHC) program for children with chronic physical illness demonstrated overall benefits for the group enrolled in the PHC program. This paper examines which subgroups benefited most (relative to control subjects) and which benefited least from the PHC intervention. Prior to the randomized controlled trial, PHC served those with the most burdensome medical conditions from the families with the fewest coping resources. However, data from the randomized controlled trial (N = 219) show that these were not the subjects who benefited most. Maximal benefit was evident when illness burden was small, but coping resources were low (social, educational, financial, and personal). Analyses of covariance show that subjects in PHC with both low burden and low resources had consistently better outcomes than similar subjects in Standard Care. When the illness burden was similarly low, but resources were more abundant, those in Standard Care appear to have had better outcomes than those in PHC. For those whose illness burden was more severe, the results were mixed. These findings suggest that the conventional priority of allocating existing intervention resources to the medically most burdensome cases may not always be maximally beneficial. Those with less burdensome conditions may derive greater benefit relative to control subjects from an intervention than those with extreme needs. Both medical and social factors should enter into the decision regarding the allocation of scarce resources.
- Received May 16, 1988.
- Accepted November 26, 1990.
- Copyright © 1991 by the American Academy of Pediatrics