Twenty percent of US youth have a chronic medical condition and many attend college. Guidelines for transition from pediatric to adult care do not address college health services, and little is known about their capacity to identify, support, and provide care for these youth. The objective of this study was to describe college health center policies, practices, and resources for youth with chronic medical conditions (YCMC).
Survey of medical directors from health centers of a representative sample of 200 4-year US colleges with ≥400 enrolled undergraduate students. Patterns of identification, management, and support for youth with a general chronic medical condition and with asthma, diabetes, and depression, were investigated; χ2 and Fisher exact tests were used to ascertain differences by institutional demographics.
Directors at 153 institutions completed the survey (76.5% response rate). Overall, 42% of schools had no system to identify YCMC. However, almost a third (31%) did identify and add to a registry of incoming YCMC on review of medical history, more likely in private (P < .001) and small (<5000 students, P = .002) colleges; 24% of health centers contacted YCMC to check-in/make initial appointments. Most institutions could manage asthma and depression (83% and 69%, respectively); 51% could manage diabetes on campus.
Relatively few US colleges have health systems to identify and contact YCMC, although many centers have capacity to provide primary care and management of some conditions. Guidelines for transition should address policy and practices for pediatricians and colleges to enhance comanagement of affected youth.