Background: The objective of the study was to quantitatively compare school- and community-based dental clinics in New York City that provide dental services to children in need. It was hypothesized that the school-based clinics would perform better in terms of several measures.
Methods: We reviewed billing and visit data derived from encounter forms and expense reports from 4 school- and 3 community-based clinics during 12 months in 2004-2005. The health clinics, administered by the Children's Aid Society, provided dental services to children regardless of ability to pay. The assessments were based on 8 performance indicators, including some based on relative value units, and profile of service indicators was used for assessment. Descriptive statistics and results from hypothesis tests are reported.
Results: Based on significant and large differences on the indicators, the school-based health clinics appear to have definite advantages over community-based dental clinics. Results were consistent across many indicators.
Conclusions: The results support increasing the number of school-based dental clinics in urban areas that serve children in need. Being based in schools, factors such as transportation issues, parent availability, and missed appointments are greatly reduced. This has great public dental health implications for children in underserved areas. Schools provide a natural location to provide preventive and responsive dental care. Similar advantages could be expected in rural areas and other areas of need.