Child Health Policy in the 20th Century United States


Using largely primary sources, this project will review the history of pediatrics, focusing on how pediatrics shifted from an expansive public health focus to a narrower interest in biomedicine. The research will explore critical events in the past that have shaped our current approaches to pediatric care and child health policy. Two critical case studies will receive extra emphasis. The first case will study the historical breakdown in the alliance between pediatric leaders and public health advocates in the opening decades of the twentieth century. This aspect of research, which will include analysis of the early successful initiatives supported by the Fund, will explore the implications for child development services in pediatric training and care. The second case study will focus on the consequences of Medicaid for child health and raise questions about the historical assumptions underpinning that influential program. This research will examine the origination of viewing and reimbursing for pediatric care as a series of discrete (and codeable) events, and will raise questions about how potentially outdated assumptions about child health care continue to influence funding for children's health care services. Project staff will analyze government documents, minutes of meetings and reports from pediatric and medical organizations, archived reports from relevant organizations, published literature, popular literature and conduct interviews with critical policy makers and pediatricians. The work of the Commonwealth Fund has been integral to the history that will be reviewed and its work will be integrated into the narrative report. A small group of well-known policy experts have agreed to serve as informal consultants and reviewers for this project.

Grant Details

Grantee Organization:
University of Michigan Center
for the History of Medicine
Principal Investigator:
Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D.
Award Amount:
Approval Date:
May 1, 2003

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