OBJECTIVE. Using nationally representative data, we examined biological, medical system, and sociodemographic factors that are associated with health-related quality of life as measured by a multidimensional index that accounts for a wide range of child health domains.

METHODS. Children aged ≥6 years (N = 69031) were drawn from the 2003/2004 National Survey of Children's Health. A random 25% sample was used to create a 12-item index of health-related quality of life with a range of 0 to 100, based on the conceptual framework of the Child Health and Illness Profile. Bivariate and multivariable regression analyses were conducted to identify the unadjusted and independent associations of key biological, medical system, and sociodemographic variables with health-related quality of life.

RESULTS. The index mean was 72.3 (SD: 14.5), median value was 73.7, and range was 11.1 to 99.9. Only 0.2% of children had a score at the ceiling. In multivariable regression analysis, the following variables were independently associated with lower health-related quality of life: biological factors (greater disease burden, severe asthma, and overweight status); medical system factors (unmet medical needs, lack of a regular health care provider, Medicaid insurance, or being uninsured previously during the year); and sociodemographic factors (older age groups, lower family education, single-mother family, having a smoker in the household, black race, and poverty).

CONCLUSIONS. Health-related quality of life in the United States is poorest for children and youth in lower socioeconomic status groups, those with access barriers, adolescents compared with children, and individuals with medical conditions. A multidimensional health-related quality-of-life index is an alternative to conventional measures (eg, mortality) for national monitoring of child health.

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