To define the practice of pediatric otolaryngology compared with general otolaryngology and to estimate pediatric otolaryngology workforce utilization and needs.
Survey of members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Otolaryngology and Bronchoesophagology and the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology and of a random sample of the membership of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.
Pediatric otolaryngologists were more likely to practice in urban and/or academic settings than were general otolaryngologists. Children (age <18 years) comprised over 88% of the patients of pediatric otolaryngologists and 30% to 35% of the patients of general otolaryngologists. Pediatric otolaryngologists were more likely to see children with complicated diseases such as airway disorders or congenital anomalies than were general otolaryngologists. Pediatric otolaryngologists, unlike general otolaryngologists, reported an increasing volume of pediatric referrals, as well as increased complexity in the patients referred. The surveyed physicians estimated the present number of pediatric otolaryngologists in their communities as approximately 0.2 to 0.3 per 100 000 people.
Most children receiving otolaryngologic care in the United States receive such care from general otolaryngologists. The patient profile and practice setting of the subspecialty of pediatric otolaryngology differ from those of general otolaryngology. The demand for pediatric otolaryngologists appears to be increasing, but many general otolaryngologists do not believe there is an increased need.