(HealthDay News) — School-based health centers (SBHCs) can serve as patient-centered medical homes, according to a study published online October 6 in Pediatrics.

Sean T. O’Leary, MD, MPH, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional, mailed survey of a random sample of 198 adolescent SBHC users and 181 parents of SBHC users from 10 SBHCs. The data were analyzed to examine how well SBHCs fulfill criteria for an American Academy of Pediatrics-defined medical home.

The researchers note that the top three reasons for SBHC visits were illness, vaccines, and sexual health education (78, 69, and 63%, respectively). The clinic offering sick or injury visits, sports physicals, and vaccinations were cited as very important factors by more than 75% of parents in the decision to enroll their adolescent in an SBHC. Favorable responses were given by more than 70% of adolescents to questions about medical home criteria (accessibility, continuity, comprehensiveness, family-centeredness, coordination, and compassion). Most parents reported that they could always or usually trust the SBHC provider to take good care of their child, and were satisfied with provider-to-provider communication (83 and 82%, respectively).

“Policymakers and communities should recognize that SBHCs play an important role in the medical community, especially for underserved adolescents,” the authors write.

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