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Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute

Children with special health care needs in Switzerland

The main purposes of the study were to (1) estimate the prevalence and (2) describe the characteristics of children with special health care needs (CSHCN) in Switzerland using a nationally-representative sample. The study was administered successfully,
as planned. Data collection was conducted in two phases. In phase I, a representative sample of 16496 children ages 9 – 14 from 253 communities in Switzerland was recruited. Screening was conducted via computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) with the parents, using the five-item parent-reported CSHCN Screener.

However, when telephone numbers were not available (2,859 parents), or when parents could not be reached by telephone due to an invalid telephone number or simply due to not responding (totaling 1,340 parents), the screening questionnaire
was sent to parents by mail. A single reminder including the questionnaire was sent
to parents who had not returned the written questionnaire within approximately one month. On this written questionnaire, the parents were additionally asked to include their telephone number, if they agreed to be contacted again for the CATI. Altogether in Phase 1, 9,786 parents completed CATI screening, while 1,044 filled out the written screening questionnaire only (response rate=65.7%). In Phase 2, families of those children identified as CSHCN (N=1360) during screening were invited to continue the CATI for us to obtain detailed information: 1358 families completed the CATI; while, due to budget constraints, only a random sample of 1143 children without special health care needs was selected to continue the CATI to serve as controls. In addition, written questionnaires assessing children’s quality of life (both self-report and parent-report Kidscreen27) and behavioral/emotional problems (Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire, SDQ) were sent to those families who agreed. A total of 2683 written questionnaires were sent out and 1616 questionnaires returned).


For more information and to participate please visit the project page.

Weiterführende Informationen


Meichun Mohler-Kuo (Project Leader)

Michelle Dey