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MCH Measurement Portal FAQs


Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Measurement Portal can be found below. If you would like to access more general questions about the Data Resource Center, please see our DRC FAQ page

About the MCH Measurement Portal

What is the purpose of the CAHMI MCH Measurement Portal?
What can I find on the portal?


About the MCH Measures Compendium and Measure Set Profiles

How were the 12 measure sets chosen for the measure set profiles and compendium?
Why are some measures (for example, those included in Child Stats’ America’s Children chartbook) or frameworks (such as RWJF’s Culture of Health) not included in the compendium?
Why are the Head Start measures included in the profiles but not in the compendium?
Will there be additional measures/measure sets added in the future?
I still think there are additional, good measures in X measure set – who should I contact to get them included?
Are these measures up-to-date?
How was the measure classification framework created?
Are these measures nationally endorsed?
What are the advantages to using these measures?

Technical Definitions in the MCH Measurement Portal

What is the difference between unit of analysis and target population?
What does it mean for a measure to have technical specifications?
What are the numerator and denominator of a measure?
What does it mean when a measure’s data source is “administrative data?”

About the MCH-MRN Project

How is this portal part of the larger Maternal and Child Health Measurement Research Network (MCH-MRN) project?
What is the MCH-MRN project?
Who sponsors it?
How can I join the MCH-MRN? 

Additional MCH Measurement Resources

What are some additional CAHMI/DRC-produced measurement resources?
Where else can I go to find additional resources on measurement?


About the MCH Measurement Portal

What is the purpose of the CAHMI MCH Measurement Portal?

The main purpose of the MCH Measurement Portal is threefold:

  1. To provide metadata (e.g. numerator, denominator, measurement program, target population) on MCH measures used across federal programs and initiatives
  2. To give easy access to measures being used in the field with the potential to drive and shape research, policy, and programs. This includes the potential for harmonization across the various programs and initiatives.
  3. To provide links to additional measurement resources, both from the CAHMI/DRC and from external organizations

What can I find on the portal?

Currently, the MCH Measurement Portal includes:

In the future, we hope to expand the portal to include even more measure metadata and resources. If there is additional information that would be particularly useful to you, please feel free to e-mail Kathleen Powers at info@cahmi.org

About the MCH Measures Compendium and Measure Set Profiles

How were the 12 measure sets chosen for the measure set profiles and compendium?

The 12 measure initiatives/programs included in this portal were selected based on their use within a range of MCH programs across various settings, including state Medicaid/CHIP programs, community MCH health and social services programs, federal maternal, child, youth, and family-serving agencies, health systems, and health plans. Profiles of each of these 12 sets are included on this portal. Individual measures used by each of the 12 MCH programs/initiatives were included in this review and in the compendium as long as they were sufficiently developed to include a specific and clear measure numerator, denominator, and data source.

Why are some measures (for example, those included in Child Stats’ America’s Children chartbook) or frameworks (such as RWJF’s Culture of Health) not included in the compendium?

The focus of the compendium is on measures in existing measure sets and initiatives that are used to monitor health and well-being, guide needs assessments, implement and evaluate quality improvement processes, and build knowledge to advance policy, programmatic, and clinical work. The compendium is also focused on measures of health and well-being of children, adolescents, and families. There are many useful, valid measures and indicators in use that were outside the scope of this work; however, some may be included in the future.

Why are the Head Start measures included in the profiles but not in the compendium?

Individual measures used by each of the 12 MCH programs/initiatives were included in this review as long as they were sufficiently developed to include a specific and clear measure numerator and denominator and data source. Since the data collected through the Head Start Program Information Report’s 59-part child-health data collection instrument did not provide such information, we were unable to include Head Start measures in the MCH-MRN’s detailed measure characterization steps. However, in the future, it appears that it would be possible to construct measures with clear numerator and denominator specifications from the data collected.  

Will there be additional measures/measure sets added in the future?

We hope to include additional relevant measures/measure sets in the future as time and resources allow.

I still think there are additional, good measures in X measure set – who should I contact to get them included?

You may contact Kathleen Powers at info@cahmi.org with such inquiries. We will periodically review and add new measures to the compendium as time, resources, and appropriateness for the compendium allow.

Are these measures up-to-date?

These measures are up to date as of February 2016. We plan on updating this information semi-annually as capacity allows.

How was the measure classification framework created?

Individual measures were first anchored to the domains of measurement included in both the MCH-MRN conceptual framework and the Child Trends® Child Wellbeing Framework. This entailed categorizing measures into one of three domains:

(1) Individual and Population Health Outcomes (Conditions, Mortality, Overall Health and Well-being, etc.)

(2) Upstream Determinants/Risk and Protective Factors (Physical and Social Environment, Education, Health Behaviors, etc.)

(3) Health Care and Services Access (Access, Insurance, Hospitalization, etc.)

Based on similarities in measures across these three domains, all 821 measures were topically categorized at 3 levels:

  • Level 1:  All 821 measures were sorted into at least one of six high-level topics: (1) Health Care and Service Access; (2) Condition Prevalence and Health Status; (3) Mortality; (4) Social Determinants of Health; (5) Pregnancy, Birth, and Sexual Health and (6) Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Health. (Note that some measures fell into more than one Level 1 category).
  • Level 2: Next, all measures were further categorized into 40 sub-topics, reflecting the depth of measures available within each Level 1 category. 
  • Level 3: Last, each measure was assigned to one of 205 sub-sub topics, meant to capture more specific aspects of health and well-being.  

For example, the AMCHP Life Course Indicator 9, the proportion of households experiencing food insecurity, is classified as:

Level 1: Social Determinants of Health
Level 2: Economic Factors
Level 3: Food Security  

Are these measures nationally endorsed?

Some measures are endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF); some measures are also included in the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse (NQMC) and/or the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Endorsement simply means that a measure has been examined in a formal way by an organization containing measurement experts, and judged to be of high quality. However, this process can take a great deal of time and resources, and is usually not covered by grant funding. Lack of endorsement does not necessarily reflect the quality or validity of a given measure.

What are the advantages to using these measures?

Many of the measures included in the MCH-MRN’s electronic compendium are actively used to collect and report on data for a variety of purposes. Using these measures provides the benefit of improving the harmonization of a core set of measures across MCH agencies and programs and gives easy access to information and resources on existing measures. Standardizing measurement systems will provide evidence and guidance to support definitions of health that extend beyond the absence of disease. 

Technical Definitions in the MCH Measurement Portal

What is the difference between unit of analysis and target population?

The unit of analysis is the major entity being analyzed by a measure, which could be individuals, groups, or organizations (e.g. infants, caregivers, schools, clinics, or states). The target population is the demographic group of focus (e.g. infants, children, mothers, or pregnant women). For example, in a measure looking at the requirements for health education in high schools, the unit of analysis is high schools, but the target population is adolescents.

What does it mean for a measure to have technical specifications?

Technical specifications include numerator and denominator statements at the very least. Technical specifications can also include detailed information on the validation, development, and origin of many a measure. Measures were only included in the compendium if they had at least the minimum technical specifications of numerator and denominator statements. See the CAHMI’s 4-part Measure Review Strategy for more information on what defines a measure.

What are the numerator and denominator of a measure?

The denominator of a measure can be thought of as the greater overall population, for example “children age 0-5”.  The numerator of a measure can be thought of as the topic being measured among the population.  For, instance an example of a numerator would be “hospitalizations among children age 0-5”.

To illustrate this concept more specifically, when considering a measure that seeks to capture the proportion of adolescents ages 13-17 who received the HPV vaccine, the denominator would be the “total population of adolescents aged 13-17”, and the numerator would be “adolescents aged 13-17 who received a complete series of the HPV vaccine.”

What does it mean when a measure’s data source is “administrative data?”

When a measure’s data source is identified as “administrative data”, the data is typically pulled from sources such as insurance claims, birth and death certificates, and health records (both paper and electronic). 

About the MCH-MRN Project

How is this portal part of the larger Maternal and Child Health Measurement Research Network (MCH-MRN) project?

In this portal, we share tools that were in part developed under the rubric of the MCH-MRN. These tools include a dynamic compendium of maternal and child health and well-being measures and 1-page profiles of all the measure programs/initiatives  whose measures were included in the compendium. The CAHMI was recently awarded the 2016-2019 cycle of the MCH-MRN, and will post updates to resources on our MCH-MRN Project Overview page.

What is the MCH-MRN project?

The goal of the MCH-MRN is to create a sustainable interdisciplinary network to ensure data-driven innovation and shared accountability to improve outcomes and systems performance on behalf of the nation's children, youth, and families. The CAHMI has contributed to this goal by identifying gaps and priority areas in MCH measurement and creating a dynamic electronic compendium of health and well-being measures of children, adolescents, and families to advance MCH research. To learn more, see our MCH-MRN Project Overview.

Who sponsors it?

The MCH-MRN is sponsored by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) (UA6MC26253). The collaborative network has been led by the CAHMI in collaboration with the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities. Funding for the 2013-2016 cycle of this grant ended in August of 2016; the CAHMI will be leading the 2016-2019 cycle starting in September of 2016.

How can I join the MCH-MRN?

Thank you so much for your interest! Please check out our MCH-MRN Project Overview page for information on ways to participate, including becoming a member of a topic-specific working group. You can also e-mail Kathleen Powers at info@cahmi.org for more information.

Additional MCH Measurement Resources

What are some additional CAHMI/DRC-produced measurement resources?

Where else can I go to find additional resources on measurement?

Below, users can find a series of reports, publications, presentations, and factsheets which provide additional information relevant to MCH measurement: