Adolescents' Patterns of Well-Care Use Over Time: Who Stays Connected

Am J Prev Med. 2021 May;60(5):e221-e229. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.12.008. Epub 2021 Feb 27.


Introduction: Well-care use can positively impact adolescents' current and future health. Understanding adolescents' longitudinal well-care use is critical to determine to whom and when to target engagement strategies to improve healthcare access. This study describes prospective well-care use patterns from childhood through adolescence stratified by sex.

Methods: The sample (N=6,872) was drawn from the Child/Young Adult component of the household-based 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth consisting of biological children born to female respondents (1980-1997). Well-care use (routine checkup with a doctor within last year) data were assessed from age 5 years (1986-2003) until age 17 years (1998-2015). Conducted in 2019, latent class analyses stratified by sex identified well-care use patterns reported over 7 biennial time points adjusted for cohort, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, maternal education, and insurance.

Results: A total of 4 well-care use classes emerged for female adolescents: the majority belonged to Engaged (37%) and Moderately Engaged (39%) classes and the remainder belonged to Gradually Re-engaged (14%) and Disengaged-with-Rebound (10%) classes. A total of 3 classes emerged for male adolescents: the majority belonged to the Persistently Disengaged (48%) class and the remainder belonged to Engaged (34%) and Gradually Re-engaged (18%) classes. For both sexes, comparing each cohort with the first, Engaged class membership increased for subsequent cohorts. Less engaged well-care use classes had more non-Hispanic White adolescents living in rural areas with lower insurance coverage. Maternal education differentiated well-care use classes for male but not for female adolescents, being higher for male adolescents in the Engaged class than in other classes.

Conclusions: These findings highlight that well-care use patterns for both sexes changed during the transition from childhood to adolescence and that class membership differed by covariates. These results suggest that sex-specific strategies may be needed to enhance adolescents' well-care use engagement over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult