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Pediatrics. 1998 Jun;101(6):E12.

Elementary school-based health center use.

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University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital, Denver, CO 80218, USA.



The number of school-based health centers (SBHCs) has grown from 40 in 1985 to >900 in 1996. During the 1996-1997 school year there were 914 SBHCs, 32% of which were located in elementary schools. Despite the relatively large number of elementary SBHCs in existence, SBHCs serving elementary-aged students are not adequately represented in the literature.


To analyze physical and mental primary health care utilization in a comprehensive elementary SBHC for an underserved Hispanic population.


Retrospective analyses of services used at an elementary SBHC during the 1995-1996 school year. We describe physical and mental health services utilization provided by SBHC staff who offered a range of primary medical and mental health services.


The study population was predominately Hispanic, and comprised of 811 elementary school students (grades preschool through fifth) registered for SBHC use. Analyses were conducted on 591 students who used the SBHC.


The 591 SBHC users made 2443 visits, ranging between 1 and 54 visits/individual; mean 4 visits/student. Two thirds of visits (1638) were medical provider visits, and 33% (798) were mental health provider visits. Most students (75%) saw a medical provider exclusively, 9% saw a mental health provider exclusively, and 16% of students were seen by both. Mean duration of medical provider visits +/-SD was 15 +/- 13 minutes, mean for mental health provider visits +/-SD, 37 +/- 16 minutes. Of the 3035 diagnoses, 64% were medical and 36% were mental health diagnoses. These diagnostic frequencies are grouped as follows: acute medical (31%), health maintenance (22%), depression (10%), non-Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV mental health diagnoses (8%), conflict disorder/emotional disturbance (8%), chronic medical (8%), academic/learning disorder (7%), anxiety disorder (3%), and other (4%).


High rates of SBHC utilization by this population and the range of diagnoses recorded suggest health care delivered in a comprehensive, culturally-sensitive SBHC has the potential for impacting the health and well-being of underserved elementary-aged students.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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