Research Article| Volume 23, ISSUE 2, P314-321, March 2023

Continuity of Care in Primary Care for Young Children With Chronic Conditions



      1) To assess continuity of care (CoC) within primary-care practices for children with asthma and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to children without chronic conditions, and 2) to determine patient and clinical-care factors associated with CoC.


      Retrospective cohort study of electronic health records from office visits of children <9 years, seen ≥4 times between 2015 and 2019 in 10 practices of a community-based primary health care network in California. Three cohorts were constructed: 1) Asthma: ≥2 visits with asthma visit diagnoses; 2) ASD: same method; 3) Controls: no chronic conditions. CoC, using Usual Provider of Care measure (range > 0–1), was calculated for 1) all visits (overall) and 2) well-care visits. Fractional regression models examined CoC adjusting for patient age, medical insurance, practice affiliation, and number of visits.


      Of 30,678 children, 1875 (6.1%) were classified with Asthma, 294 (1.0%) with ASD, and 15,465 (50.4%) as Controls. Overall CoC was lower for Asthma (Mean = 0.58, SD 0.21) and ASD (M = 0.57, SD = 0.20) than Controls (M = 0.66, SD = 0.21); differences in well-care CoC were minimal. In regression models, lower overall CoC was found for Asthma (aOR = 0.90, 95% CI, 0.85–0.94). Lower overall and well-care CoC were associated with public insurance (aOR = 0.77, CI, 0.74–0.81; aOR = 0.64, CI, 0.59–0.69).


      After accounting for patient and clinical-care factors, children with asthma, but not with ASD, in this primary-care network had significantly lower CoC compared to children without chronic conditions. Public insurance was the most prominent patient factor associated with low CoC, emphasizing the need to address disparities in CoC.


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