Does Having a Regular Primary Care Clinician Improve Quality of Preventive Care for Young Children?

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This study examines whether having a regular clinician for preventive care is associated with quality of care for young children, as measured by interpersonal quality ratings and content of anticipatory guidance.

Data Source:

The National Survey of Early Childhood Health (NSECH), a nationally representative parent survey of health care quality for 2068 young US children fielded by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Study Design:

Bivariate and multivariate analyses evaluate associations between having a regular clinician for well child care and interpersonal quality, the content of anticipatory guidance, and timely access to care.

Principal Findings:

In bivariate analysis, parents of children with a regular clinician for preventive care reported slightly higher interpersonal quality (69 vs. 65 on a 0–100 scale, P = 0.01). Content of anticipatory guidance received was slightly greater for children with a regular clinician (82 vs. 80 on a 0–100 scale, P = 0.03). In bivariate analysis, a regular clinician was associated with interpersonal quality only among African American and Hispanic children. In multivariate analyses, controlling for factors that could independently influence self-reports of experiences with care, interpersonal quality but not anticipatory guidance content was higher for children with a regular clinician.


Having a regular primary care clinician is embraced in pediatrics, although team care among physicians is also widely practiced. For young children, having a regular clinician is associated with modest gains in interpersonal quality and no differences in content of anticipatory guidance. The benefit of having a regular clinician may primarily occur in interpersonal quality for subgroups of young children.

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