To compare attendance at preventive medical and dental visits for children with special health care needs (CSHCN) and children without special health care needs, and associations between attending visits and unmet need.
We analyzed data on 102 353 children aged 0 to 17 years from the National Survey of Children's Health. We examined associations between attending preventive medical or dental visits and CSHCN status, and unmet need for medical or preventive dental care and attending preventive medical or dental visits.
Medical care-CSHCN were more likely than other children to attend a well-child visit (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 1.45 [1.12-1.93] for 0 to 5 years, 1.99 [1.74-2.28] for 6 to 11 years, 1.84 [1.64-2.06] for 12 to 17 years). CSHCN aged 12 to 17 years attending a well-child visit had lower odds of unmet medical need (0.48 [0.27-0.85]) than CSHCN not attending visits; well-child visits and unmet need were not associated for younger age groups. Dental care-CSHCN aged 3 to 5 years were more likely than other children of similar ages to attend a preventive dental visit (1.26 [1.04-1.52]). CSHCN attending a preventive dental visit had lower odds of unmet preventive dental needs than CSHCN not attending visits (0.52 [0.28-0.93] for 3 to 5 years, 0.18 [0.12-0.28] for 6 to 11 years, 0.12 [0.08-0.17] for 12 to 17 years).
CSHCN attend preventive medical and dental visits at similar or higher rates than other children. CSHCN who attend visits are less likely to have unmet needs. Further research should examine differences in visit content for CSHCN and mechanisms whereby preventive care may reduce unmet need.