This method of profiling health of individuals seems to be useful, valid, and reliable, although additional research is clearly needed to test it fully. Profiles may provide a particularly interesting method of characterizing the health needs of youth with disabilities, chronic, or recurring conditions. Because the profiles are not based on the presence or absence of disorder per se (although that information is available on the CHIP), the profiles provide a picture of how the adolescents experience their health, with reference to their symptomatology, satisfaction with their health and themselves, their resilience resources, and risk behaviors. The importance of understanding profiles or patterns of health can be seen in the comparison of profile distributions for youth who have medical disorders, those in a general school population, and those with psychiatric disorders. The differences in the experienced health state for youth with different medical and psychiatric conditions underscore the need for a method of studying health data that retains the individual profile of health experienced by each child.
In summary, health is not such a unified concept that a person's illness defines it adequately. Symptomatology, self-concept, general outlook, risk behaviors, and protective factors vary even among those with chronic conditions, and knowledge of these variations is needed to develop well-focused treatment interventions, plan preventive programming, and evaluate health outcomes in subpopulations with physical illness, mental illness, and/or disability. The taxonomy of health profiles developed for the CHIP gives planners and health-services providers a tool to improve a range of interventions for health maintenance and health promotion in youth.
The authors are grateful to Mia Kang for her thoroughness and insights in performing the analyses. This research was supported in part by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, grant #HS07045 and by the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, HHS, grant #MCJ247307.
Achenbach, T. M., McConaughy, S. H., & Howell, C. T. ( 1987). "Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: Implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity". Psychological Bulletin, 101, 213-238.