Caregiver Interview

Children’s HealthWatch data consists of repeated cross-sectional sampling of English- and Spanish-speaking caregivers (and, 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 exams rooms in the ED or clinic. During the survey, interviewers collect information about demographics, child health and development, parental health, housing, household food security, federal assistance program utilization, employment, income, financial literacy, oral health and health care access, utilities, and childcare.


Caregivers of children under 48 months of age seeking medical care for their children are interviewed during their medical visit.

Study research assistants:

  • Obtain consent and determine eligibility
    •  Caregiver eligibility requirements include:
    • English or Spanish speaking (or Somali-speaking in Minneapolis only)
    • 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.
  • Connect families in need of services with pertinent resources and referral information, either on-site or in their neighborhood.
  • 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.
  • Research assistants and site coordinators code and clean interviews on a regular basis.
  • After interviews are individually coded and cleaned, data is sent through a secure website to the Boston University Data Coordinating Center (DCC) to be downloaded into the secure database and analyzed.
  • Across all five research sites, we collect approximately 4,800 records per year.

Medical Record Review

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

  • Data obtained from medical records include: dehydration status and admission to the hospital (ED-sites only). The data are entered directly into the electronic interview at each site and sent securely to the DCC.
  • Each week, the DCC 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.