School-based health centers: improving access and quality of care for low-income adolescents

Pediatrics. 2007 Oct;120(4):e887-94. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-2314. Epub 2007 Sep 10.


Objectives: We sought to compare visit rates, emergency care use, and markers of quality of care between adolescents who use school-based health centers and those who use other community centers within a safety-net health care system for low-income and uninsured patients.

Patients and methods: In this retrospective cohort study we used Denver Health electronic medical chart data, the Denver Health immunization registry, and Denver Public Schools enrollment data for the period from August 1, 2002, to July 31, 2003. The cohort included all 14- to 17-year-old Denver Public Schools high school enrollees who were active Denver Health patients and were either uninsured or insured by Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program. "School-based health center users" were those who had used a Denver Health school-based health center; "other users" were those who had used a Denver Health community clinic but not a school-based health center. Markers of quality included having a health maintenance visit and receipt of an influenza vaccine, tetanus booster, and hepatitis B vaccine if indicated. Multiple logistic regression analysis that controlled for gender, race/ethnicity, insurance status, chronic illness, and visit rate was used to compare school-based health center users to other users.

Results: Although school-based health center users (n = 790) were less likely than other users (n = 925) to be insured (37% vs 73%), they were more likely to have made > or = 3 primary care visits (52% vs 34%), less likely to have used emergency care (17% vs 34%), and more likely to have received a health maintenance visit (47% vs 33%), an influenza vaccine (45% vs 18%), a tetanus booster (33% vs 21%), and a hepatitis B vaccine (46% vs 20%).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that, within a safety-net system, school-based health centers augment access to care and quality of care for underserved adolescents compared with traditional outpatient care sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Poverty
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • School Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tetanus Toxoid / administration & dosage
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data


  • Hepatitis B Vaccines
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Tetanus Toxoid