Access to ambulatory care for adolescents: the role of a usual source of care

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 1997 May;8(2):214-26. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2010.0466.


Using data from the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey, characteristics of ambulatory service utilization for adolescents aged 11 through 17 were examined. Access to health care was further explored by identifying adolescents at risk of not receiving an ambulatory service in the event of symptomatology. Approximately two-thirds of an estimated 25 million adolescents experienced an outpatient visit. African American race, Hispanic ethnicity, middle income, and lack of insurance and a usual source of care placed adolescents at risk for not receiving an ambulatory service. Sixteen million adolescents experienced symptomatology, but only one-third saw a physician. Those lacking a usual source of care were at greater odds of not receiving care. For symptom-based care, inequities were related more to lack of usual source of care rather than socioeconomic characteristics. Health care reform efforts may benefit from ensuring that adolescents have an identified usual source of care to ensure equity of access to care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States