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Public Health Rep. 2008 Nov-Dec;123(6):768-80.

Impact of school-based health centers on students with mental health problems.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0004, USA.



School-based health centers (SBHCs) play an increasingly major role in providing mental health services for students. This study evaluated the impact of SBHCs on mental health-care services and psychosocial health-related quality of life (HRQOL).


Four SBHC intervention and two matched non-SBHC school districts were examined from 1997 to 2003. The SBHC intervention began in 2000. Data included child and parent pediatric HRQOL and Ohio Medicaid claims. A longitudinal quasi-experimental time-series repeated measures design was used for this study, involving analysis of covariance to assess health costs and regression analyses for HRQOL scores.


After the SBHC program, proportions of students accessing mental health-care services for urban and rural SBHC intervention schools increased 5.6% (chi2 = 39.361, p < 0.0001) and 5.9% (chi2 = 5.545, p < 0.0001), respectively, compared with increases of 2.6% (chi2 = 2.670, p = 0.1023) and 0.2% (chi2 = 0.006, p = 0.9361) for urban and rural non-SBHC schools, respectively. Using data from 109 students with mental health problems based on Medicaid claims, the study found SBHC students had significantly lower total health-care costs (F = 5.524, p = 0.005) and lower costs of mental health services (F = 4.820, p = 0.010) compared with non-SBHC students. While improvements over time in HRQOL for SBHC students compared with non-SBHC students and students from non-SBHC schools were observed, only some were statistically significant.


SBHC programs increase the proportion of students who receive mental health services and may improve pediatric HRQOL. SBHC students with mental health problems had lower total Medicaid reimbursements compared with non-SBHC students.

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