Caregiver Interview

Children’s HealthWatch data consists of repeated cross-sectional sentinel sampling of English- and Spanish-speaking caregivers (and previously, in Minneapolis only, Somali-speaking caregivers) of children under four years of age accessing emergency departments (ED) and primary and acute care clinics in Children’s HealthWatch medical centers. The survey instrument is administered during waiting periods in exam rooms in the ED or clinic or by phone follow up after an ED or primary care visit. During the survey, interviewers collect information about demographics, child health and development, caregiver health, housing, household food security, federal assistance program utilization and access, employment, income, financial literacy, oral health and health care access, utilities, and child care, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Experiences of Discrimination.


Caregivers of children under 48 months of age seeking medical care for their children are interviewed during their medical visit or via phone follow up after a visit.

Study research assistants:

  • Obtain consent and determine eligibility 
    •  Caregiver eligibility requirements include:
      • English or Spanish speaking 
      • Has not participated in Children’s HealthWatch interview in the past 6 months
      • Primary caregiver of child
      • Lives in same household as child
      • Lives in the state where the interview is conducted
  • Ask caregivers all questions in the Children’s HealthWatch interview, with the exception of any the caregiver declines to answer.
  • Provide families, at the conclusion of the survey, with information about local services, especially those in their neighborhood or refer, as appropriate, to on-site resources.
  • Compensate families with a gift card or other approved incentive after completing the interview.
Data collection and storage
  • All interviews are conducted using password protected and encrypted laptops or tablets in REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture).
  • Site coordinators code and clean interviews on a regular basis.
  • After interview data are cleaned and reviewed , data are added in 6 month batches to the analytic dataset managed and maintained by the Children’s HealthWatch team at Biostatistics and Epidemiology Data Analytics Center (BEDAC).
  • Across all five research sites, we collect approximately 4,300 records per year.

To learn more about our COVID-19 Follow-Up Study, click here.

Medical Record Review

Children’s HealthWatch collects medical and sociodemographic data through medical record review.

Procedures – core survey:
  • Data obtained from medical records include: dehydration status and admission to the hospital on the day of the survey (ED-sites only). The data are entered directly into the electronic interview at each site and sent securely to BEDAC.
  • Each week, BEDAC compiles a report of surveillance data for Children’s HealthWatch sites that provide follow-up for nutritionally at-risk children (based on height/weight for age). Primary care providers of at-risk children are sent a letter alerting them to the child’s status as having possible growth or nutrition problems. Click to learn more about anthropometric assessment.

Electronic Health Record Repository

In three of our five sites we  have additionally developed an electronic health record (EHR) repository, which allows us to follow children’s health and health care utilization longitudinally over time.  The repository contains linked records (survey and EHR data) from children from our Boston, Minneapolis, and Little Rock sites.  We hope to add Philadelphia and Baltimore in the future.  The records have also been geocoded, which allows examination of geospatial and exposure data, such as pollution and noise exposure or green-space and food access, as well as Census data at the parcel level, like income.