Putting Health care Where the Kids Are: US Public Attitudes About School-Based Health Centers

Simon F. Haeder, Daniel Marthey, Daniel Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: School-based health centers (SBHCs) have been shown to offer substantial benefits to students but we know little about how the public thinks about them. We sought to assess US public attitudes about SBHCs and the provision of 7 health service lines—primary care, preventive care, vaccinations, preventive dental care, preventive vision care, mental health care, and nutrition counseling. METHODS: We administered a national online survey (N = 4196) of US adults using Lucid, a large, internet-based, opt-in panel to assess public attitudes about SBHCs as well as 7 commonly offered health services in SBHCs. We then used t-tests and weighted linear regression models to carry out our study objectives. RESULTS: Unadjusted analysis revealed that more than 2 in 3 respondents supported SBHCs in general as well as the provision of all health services in SBHCs. Regression analysis indicated that ideology, partisanship, and trust in public school principals served as consistent predictors of attitudes when controlling for demographic and health characteristics. The provision of vaccinations stood out as particularly controversial. Subanalysis of parents found even higher levels of support as well as a more subdued role of ideology and partisanship. CONCLUSIONS: The US public broadly supports the provision of health services in SBHCs. Our results should inform policymakers, advocates, and providers seeking to improve access to health care among school-aged children, particularly for underserved populations. Increasing knowledge about SBHCs and providing stable funding should be a priority. In the immediate future, SBHCs may offer an important buffer against ongoing Medicaid disenrollments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of School Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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