Objective. Concerned about alarmingly low rates of immunization among some young US children as well as disturbing trends in vaccine availability and delivery, the American Academy of Pediatrics sought to examine national trends in referral for immunization among US pediatricians.
Methods. A self-administered eight-page questionnaire on issues in childhood immunization was mailed to a random sample of the AAP's 36 000 US resident members. Four rounds of the survey yielded a sample size of 1246, for a response rate of 77%.
Results. A majority of respondents reported referral of some patients for immunization; reported reasons for referral focused on issues of cost to the patient. Personal characteristics of pediatricians (age and gender) were not related to referral practices. Pediatricians practicing in solo or group settings were 2.8 times as likely as those in clinics or other settings to refer patients for immunization. Those in nonmetropolitan areas were nearly twice as likely as those in large metropolitan areas to refer for immunization. When setting and location were controlled, pediatricians who reported that their states had programs to provide all vaccines free or at reduced cost were much less likely to indicate that they referred patients for immunization.
Conclusions. A majority of US pediatricians refer some of their patients to other providers for immunizations because of financial reasons. Children outside of metropolitan areas may be at particular risk for problems of availability of and access to immunizations. This study raises, once again, the issue of differential health care access for children based on payment mechanisms.
- Received April 4, 1994.
- Accepted July 5, 1994.
- Copyright © 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics