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J Sch Health. 2002 Apr;72(4):133-7.

Comparing frequent and average users of elementary school-based health centers in the Bronx, New York City.

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Montefiore School Health Program, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 3544 Jerome Ave., Bronx, NY 10467, USA.


This study analyzed health care utilization at three school-based health centers (SBHCs) in the Bronx, New York City, and compared characteristics of "frequent" and "average" service users. Encounter form data for visits by 2,795 students who received services at least once between September 7, 1998, and June 30, 1999, were reviewed. Demographic comparisons between clinic users and the total school population, and between "frequent" (five or more visits/year) and "average" (one to four visits/year) users were made. The two groups also were compared after primary diagnoses were classified into five general categories. Some 96% (3,469/3,614) of students were registered in the SBHCs, of whom 81% (2,795/3,469) used clinic services at least once during the school year. Clinic users did not differ from the general school population by gender, but were younger (p < 0.01). "Frequent" users were more likely than "average" users to be older (p < 0.01), but they did not differ by gender, race/ethnicity, or insurance status. "Frequent" users comprised 28% of the clinic-using population, but accounted for 72.5% of all visits. Similarly, "average" users comprised 72.4% of the clinic-using population, but accounted for 27.5% of all visits. "Frequent" users generated most visits for mental health and chronic medical conditions, while "average" users generated most visits for preventive care, acute medical care, and injuries/emergencies (p < 0.01 for all). Important challenges for elementary SBHCs include developing new approaches that meet children's needs while protecting clinic resources, like scheduling group interventions for those with on-going health care needs who require frequent use of school health services.

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