Improving the quality of care for children in health systems

Charles J. Homer, Lawrence C. Kleinman, Donald A. Goldmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

30 Scopus citations


Objective. To summarize the state of the art in quality improvement, review its application to care for children, and define the information that will be needed so that care for children can be further improved. Principal Findings. Health services for children exhibit numerous deficiencies in quality of care. The deficiencies cross all major domains of pediatric care - preventive services, acute care, and chronic care - and provide the opportunity for creative application of improvement strategies with a potential to benefit the health and well-being of children. Approaches to quality improvement have changed over the past two decades from those emphasizing the inspection of structural aspects of care and the imposition of sanctions to more dynamic strategies that emphasize measurement and comparison to motivate change; the use of evidence to specify aims for improvement; and the adoption of a variety of management strategies adapted from business and the social sciences to achieve these aims. These modern approaches to quality improvement have rarely been suited to rigorous testing of their effectiveness. Moreover, their application in pediatrics has been less widespread than in adult healthcare. For children, several aspects about health services, such as the relative rarity of chronic illness, the important effects of social factors on health, and the limited Cost, make some of these approaches even more challenging and may require new approaches or meaningful modifications. Recommendations. Research to understand better the general process of improvement will benefit improvement efforts for children. Research that builds the base of knowledge about best practices for children - effectiveness research - will also result in an enhanced capacity for improvement of those systems that care for children'S health. Quality of care for children would be enhanced by targeted research examining ways both to foster improvement across segments of society, and to make recommendations for care more sensitive to children's development and environmental context. Research that supports incorporating the child's perspective into care is both uniquely challenging to perform and central to improving pediatric care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1109
Number of pages19
JournalHealth Services Research
Issue number4 II
StatePublished - Oct 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


  • Children
  • Formal and informal healthcare
  • Healthcare systems
  • Quality improvement

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Improving the quality of care for children in health systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this