Purpose: This study examined referrals from School-based health centers (SBHCs) to a sponsoring hospital to determine factors influencing successful referral completion and to assess SBHCs' ability to coordinate care.
Methods: A total of 138 referrals from eight SBHCs to Boston City Hospital between September 1993 and October 1994 were reviewed via medical records, clinic logs, and hospital registration system. A data extraction tool was used to collect information. Statistical analyses were performed to identify associations between referral completion and study variables.
Results: Seventy-five percent of all referrals were completed: 55.4% on the first attempt. Forty-six percent of those referred a second time completed their referrals. Statistically significant associations between referral completion and reason for referral (p = 0.01), visit diagnosis (p = 0.005), and usual source of health care (p = 0.009) were found. Provider documentation, including referral log and patient chart, was also associated with referral completion. Neither gender, race, nor health insurance had any significant association with successful referrals.
Conclusions: This study suggests that SBHCs can significantly contribute to coordinated care for adolescents, especially for the uninsured and those without a source of health care. SBHCs were particularly effective at facilitating referral to specific services including: family planning, tuberculosis prophylaxis, and subspecialty care. Provider action, such as making appointments and documentation, was also an important factor.