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Ambul Pediatr. 2003 Nov-Dec;3(6):324-8.

Primary-care visits and hospitalizations for ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions in an inner-city health care system.

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University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80045, USA.



Hospitalizations for ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions (ACSCs) are a marker for access barriers for children and a possible outcome measure for primary-care interventions. We assessed the relationship between primary-care utilization and subsequent ACSC hospitalization among inner-city children.


We conducted a nested, case-control study of children born in 1993 in Denver Health (DH), a "safety-net" delivery system in Denver, Colo. Utilization of preventive care and other primary-care services was compared between children hospitalized for ACSCs and nonhospitalized children, who were matched by age and duration of care. Comparisons were adjusted for demographics, payer, and chronic health conditions.


Of 2531 children, 115 (4.5%) were hospitalized for ACSCs. Sixty-eight percent were Hispanic, and 78% were enrolled in Medicaid. Children with ACSC hospitalization and nonhospitalized children made a similar number of preventive-care visits (2.7 +/- 2.0 vs 3.0 +/- 2.1 visits, P =.30) and other primary-care visits (4.4 +/- 4.6 vs 3.6 +/- 4.6, P =.16) between birth and hospitalization (for cases) or the same time period (for controls). After multivariate adjustment, each additional preventive-care visit (odds ratio = 0.87; 95% confidence interval: 0.67-1.12) was associated with a nonsignificant reduction in the risk of hospitalization for ACSC.


Because ACSC hospitalizations are uncommon and the association between primary care and subsequent hospitalization is weak, a reduction in ACSC hospitalizations may not be a feasible outcome measure for interventions to increase the rate of preventive- or primary-care visits for underserved children within individual delivery systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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