Medical home for adolescents: low attainment rates for those with mental health problems and other vulnerable groups

Acad Pediatr. 2013 Mar-Apr;13(2):113-21. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2012.11.004. Epub 2013 Jan 29.


Background: The importance of the medical home for children has been demonstrated but has not been examined comprehensively for adolescents. Adolescence is a unique period of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial changes when many mental disorders first emerge; thus, receiving care within a medical home could improve well-being. This study examines rates of medical home attainment and its components for adolescents and subgroups, including those with mental health conditions.

Methods: Utilizing the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, we determined the following for adolescents aged 10 to 17 years (n = 45 897): 1) rates of medical home attainment and its 5 components (usual source of care, having a personal doctor, and receiving needed referrals, effective care coordination, and family-centered care); and 2) subgroup differences; gender, race/ethnicity, income, insurance, region, language spoken at home, respondent education, and the presence of mental health conditions.

Results: Fifty-four percent of adolescents had a past-year medical home. Rates were lower for minority youth compared to whites; lower-income and uninsured youth; those in households that are non-English speaking in which the respondent did not have some college; and those with mental health as opposed to physical health conditions (all P < .01). Patterns of disparities in the medical home components were similar, and rates were lowest for effective care coordination and family-centered care components.

Conclusions: Nearly half of adolescents lacked a medical home in the past year. Even lower rates for subgroups highlight the need to increase access to comprehensive quality health care. Efforts to improve effective care coordination and family-centered care could result in higher quality of care for all children and adolescents, and specifically for disadvantaged adolescents and those with mental health conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Black or African American
  • Child
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient-Centered Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vulnerable Populations