Purpose: The goals of this study were to describe student access to health care services, identify populations of students who remained in need of health care services, and highlight particular unmet needs for health care identified by these adolescents.
Methods: Students in Grades 9-12 attending 50 schools in Oregon completed the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS). Questions requesting adolescents to report their need for specific types of health care, and access to general and specific types of care were added to the core YRBS. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine independent relationships between student or community characteristics and health care access or unmet needs for care.
Results: Almost 14,000 adolescents completed surveys, of whom 75% reported visiting one or more health care provider within the last 12 months. Nineteen percent of adolescents reported that they had not received 1 or more of 10 specific types of care when needed in the last year. Females, some racial/ethnic minorities, rural, and sexually active adolescents were more likely to report unmet needs for health care. Most frequently, adolescents reported they needed but did not receive care for an illness (7%) or for personal or emotional problems (6%). In addition, about 400 (3%) students reported they needed birth control that they did not receive.
Conclusions: A majority of high school-age adolescents had visited health care providers within the year prior to study. However, the number of adolescents who reported unmet specific health care needs within the same time period remained substantial.
PIP: This study was conducted to describe students access to health care services, to identify populations of students who remained in need of health care services, and to highlight particular unmet needs for health care identified by these adolescents. A total of 14,891 students in grades 9-12 attending in 50 schools in Oregon completed the 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS). 899 (6%) of the 14,891 were excluded because of inaccurate survey responses, leaving 13,992 surveys for the final data set. The results revealed that more than three-quarters of adolescents had visited a health care provider in the past year. A higher proportion of females had consulted health care providers than males, and females were more likely to receive care for illnesses, birth control, STDs, and personal or emotional problems. Males were most likely to receive care for injuries, accidents, and drug or alcohol problems. Sexually active students were more likely to receive all types of care except care for check-ups and sports physicals. There were still many students who had not visited a health care provider in the past 2 years and reported health care needs that were not met. Slightly more than 19% of students reported that they needed at least one type of health care but did not receive that care. This study indicates that a majority of high school-age adolescents had visited health care providers within the year prior to study. However, the number of adolescents who reported unmet specific health care needs within the same time period remained substantial.