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Her research presentation, titled “Children with Disabilities and Impacts on Families” focused on disparities in healthcare access for children with disabilities, as well as the impact those disabilities have on the families.

Dr. Houtrow’s research probed how families of children with disabilities interact with the American healthcare system, and the factors that dictate what level of care they are able to receive. She also evaluated children with disabling mental health issues and examined the way that a child’s mental health issue can affect their life, as well as the level of burden it can place on the families based on socioeconomic and other factors.


Dr. Amy Houtrow has dedicated her career to improving the health, function and well-being of children with disabilities. Dr. Houtrow obtained her MD from Michigan State University and subsequently completed residency training in a combined Pediatrics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation program at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati. During her residencies, she also completed an MPH in Health Policy and Management at the University of Michigan. From 2005-2012, she is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. While there she completed her PhD with Distinction in medical sociology. She is now the Vice Chair for Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on understanding how children with disabilities and their families interact with the health care system. Her mentoring team is led by Dr. Paul Newacheck, a leader in health services research for children with special health care needs.


Children with Disabilities and Impacts on Families

Children with disabilities and their families face substantial health and social challenges. Health service inequities exist in multiple arenas for children with disabilities that can profoundly influence health, function and well-being. The impacts of disability in childhood also extend to their families who may experience psychological and physical stress, social restrictions and financial burdens. Using social ecological modeling to contextualize children with disabilities, the experience of children and their families can be studied in multiple settings. Using the behavioral model of health services use, health inequities for children with disabilities can be elucidated. The three papers included in this dissertation utilize these frameworks to profile the health and health services of children with disabilities, to evaluate the family impacts of childhood mental health problems and to rate the impacts of proton radiation therapy on the families of children with brain tumors.