Objectives: To examine patterns of health care utilization among youth and young adults who have cerebral palsy (CP) and to provide information to guide the development of health services for adults who have CP.
Design: This study analyzed health insurance data for outpatient physician visits and hospital admissions for a 4-year period.
Setting: Six children's treatment centers in Ontario, Canada.
Participants: The sample included 587 youth and 477 adults with CP identified from health records. Youths were 13 to 17 years of age, and adults were 23 to 32 years of age at the end of the data range.
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measures: We computed the annual rates of outpatient physician visits and hospitalizations per 1000 persons and compared these with rates for the general population.
Results: Annual rates of outpatient physician visits were 6052 for youth and 6404 for adults with CP, 2.2 times and 1.9 times higher, respectively, than rates for age-matched peers (P<.01). Specialists provided 28.4% of youth visits but only 18.8% of adult visits. Annual hospital admission rates were 180 for youth and 98 for adults with CP, 4.3 times and 10.6 times higher, respectively, than rates for age-matched peers (P<.01).
Conclusions: It appears that youth and adults with CP continue to have complex care needs and rely heavily on the health care system. Comprehensive services are essential to support their health as they move into youth and adulthood. However, there appear to be gaps in the adult health care system, such as limited access to specialist physicians.