To examine those factors associated with the use of different types of ambulatory health services in a rural adolescent population.
The student bodies of 2 middle schools and 2 high schools in rural areas in a mid Atlantic state (N = 1615) were surveyed using a self-administered health status and health services use instrument. Logistic regression was used to assess factors predicting receipt of (1) preventive services, (2) problem-focused services, and (3) emergency services.
One third of the rural youth reported having received preventive services within the previous 3 months; 41% received problem-focused care, and 18% received emergency services. Having the same provider for both preventive and illness care was the most consistent and significant predictor of receipt for all types of ambulatory services. Of special note is the greater use of emergency services when subjects did not have a consistent provider for both preventive and illness care. Health need variables, measured across a wide range of domains, were additionally predictive, and their significance varied according to the type of services received.
This study provides compelling evidence that for rural adolescents, having a regular source of care and medical need are the most important predictors of use across a variety of types of ambulatory care.