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Revisiting the Viability of the Developmental-Behavioral Health Care Workforce

Leslie LK, Baum R, Turner A

In their article entitled “2015 Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics Workforce Survey,” Bridgemohan et al1 argue that the current system for managing US children with complex developmental-behavioral (DB) conditions is not viable. Despite high demand for services as measured by the increasing prevalence and complexity of childhood DB conditions, the provider supply remains limited. Results from their survey with general and subspecialty physicians and nurse practitioners, who self-identified as assessing and treating children with DB needs, suggest inadequate overall numbers of providers and overworked physicians; in addition, one-third of physician respondents reported planned retirement in 3 to 5 years.1 Two critical questions arise: (1) given a 48% response rate across a convenience sample from 3 membership organizations, are the results generalizable to the larger DB workforce, and (2) if yes, what are the implications for the health care workforce caring for children with DB conditions?