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August 1996

Linking Clinical and Public Health Approaches to Improve Access to Health Care for Socially Disadvantaged Mothers and Children: A Feasibility Study

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Margolis, Lannon, and Bordley), Medicine (Drs Carey, Lannon, and Leininger), and Health Behavior and Health Education (Dr Earp), the Curriculum in Public Health Nursing (Dr Stevens and Ms Harlan), and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center (Ms Keyes), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(8):815-821. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170330041007

Objective:  To test the feasibility of combining home-and office-based interventions to improve access to health care and health outcomes of Medicaid-eligible mothers and infants.

Design:  Randomized trial in 2 counties in North Carolina (1 rural, 1 urban). Information on health and developmental outcomes was obtained by face-to-face interviews, medical chart abstractions, hospital medical records, and state data tapes.

Participants:  Ninety-three Medicaid-eligible first-time pregnant women in their third trimester and their subsequently born infants, who were followed up until they were 6 months old, and 3 pediatric practices and 1 family practice.

Interventions:  Coordinated home visit and office intervention, office intervention, and usual care. Home visits by 3 public health nurses provided parental education and social support and linked families with needed community resources. Women in the office intervention group were encouraged to seek health care for their infants from one of the primary care practices. Participating offices received assistance with Medicaid billing, help developing a system to improve preventive care, and customized patient education materials.

Results:  Mothers reported that the nurses helped them in areas related to the content of the program. An office system for prevention was developed and implemented in all 4 practices for study patients. Families in the intervention groups were more likely than control families to have had a prenatal visit with a pediatrician (P=.01, χ2), a primary care office as the regular source of sick care (P=.02, χ2), and less waiting time (P=.02, Student t test). They were also more likely to recall receiving patient education materials (P=.007, χ2).

Conclusions:  It is feasible to link clinical and public health approaches to improve the quality and effectiveness of care for socially disadvantaged children. Such interventions should be tested in defined populations.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:815-821