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Boston Child Health Study

The Boston Child Health Study is the first of its kind in Boston.  This three-part study is a collaborative effort by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) to provide accurate and actionable data on parents’ perceptions about their children’s health and healthcare resources, the relationship between environmental issues and child health, and patterns of diagnosis, health care utilization, and treatment in Boston neighborhoods. The Boston Child Health Study includes:

(1) A random digit-dial phone survey of 2,100 Boston parents and caregivers of children ages 0 to 17 years that will provide data on a range of child health issues from the parent perspective;

(2) An environmental assessment of Boston neighborhoods through a child health lens using citywide GIS analyses and primary data collection methods in selected communities; and

(3) An analysis of Medicaid claims data for children ages 0 to 17 years to identify prevalence of child health issues by zip code and where children are receiving care. 

Data collected as part of the Boston Child Health Study will provide critical new information for healthcare providers, public health organizations, and advocacy groups as they promote family-centered approaches to improving child health in Boston communities. 

Phone Survey: The Boston Child Health Study phone survey questionnaire and methodology are modeled after the National Survey of Children’s Health and will be implemented from April 2012 through August 2012.  The survey will provide neighborhood-level data describing disease prevalence, access to services and other opportunities that promote child health, and the level of engagement with existing services among Boston’s children and families. 

Environmental Assessment: The Boston Child Health Assessment Mapping Project (CHAMP) is an environmental assessment of Boston neighborhoods through a child health lens, with particular focus on three Boston communities.  Through CHAMP, BPHC and CHB will conduct an assessment of elements within the neighborhood environment that affect child and family health and quality of life.  CHAMP will engage residents of the selected communities, who will provide input on the specific elements to be included in the assessment; conduct data collection; and use data to develop community-centered, evidence-based strategies for promoting child health. BPCH will also develop a data collection tool that can be used by other communities to conduct similar assessments. Among the specific data elements for CHAMP are the location of fast food restaurants, accessibility and affordability of healthy and unhealthy food options, elements of physical order and disorder, and the presence of positive and negative messaging directed at youth. CHAMP will also include a citywide assessment of elements in the physical, social, and economic environment using GIS data analyses.     

Medicaid Claims Data Analysis:  BPHC is currently seeking approval from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to obtain Medicaid claims data, as well as authorization to use these data for the purposes of the Boston Child Health Study Medicaid claims data analysis.  BPHC and BCH intend to use these data to identify patterns of diagnosis, utilization, treatment, and Medicaid eligibility among children ages 0 to 17 years in Boston. 

For more information about the Boston Child Health Study please contact Diana Santiago, Project Manager, at (617) 534-2274 or dsantiago@bphc.org

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