Mobile reproductive health clinics

Mobile reproductive health clinics are medically equipped vans with clinicians that offer reproductive health services, such as pregnancy tests, prenatal and postpartum care, gynecological exams, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings, health education, and referrals to social services. Vans can include a waiting room, private exam areas, an education area, and a laboratory, as well as monitors, diagnostic equipment, and educational materials (O’Connell 2010*). Vans sometimes offer screening and referral services for health concerns outside reproductive health (AHRQ HCIE-Bennett). Mobile clinics typically serve vulnerable populations, such as low income or uninsured individuals, in both urban and rural areas. Clinics may partner with hospitals, health care systems, or public health departments (MHM).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Improved prenatal care

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Reduced preterm birth

  • Improved reproductive health

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that mobile reproductive health clinics increase initiation of prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy; increases have been demonstrated among Hispanic immigrants living in urban areas (O’Connell 2010*, Edgerley 2007*). However, additional research is needed to confirm effects and determine effects for other populations.

A Florida-based study suggests mobile reproductive clinic patients are more likely to receive adequate prenatal care and less likely to deliver their babies preterm than mothers who receive care at other clinics (O’Connell 2010*). However, a California-based study suggests mothers are equally likely to receive adequate prenatal care through mobile clinics and other clinics (Edgerley 2007*). Offering reproductive health care in mobile clinics may remove barriers to providing reproductive care for adolescents, including distribution of birth control and sexual health education (Stefansson 2018*).

Mobile health clinics can reach a variety of vulnerable populations (Yu 2017, Hill 2014a), including immigrants (Gibson 2017*, O’Connell 2010*, Edgerley 2007*), individuals with substance abuse issues (Gibson 2017*), and other high risk groups (Martin 2014*).

Mobile health clinics cost an average of $429,000 per year to operate. The average return on investment for mobile health clinics is estimated to be 12 to 1 (MHM). 

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

As of 2018, there are an estimated 2,000 mobile clinics, which host up to 6.5 million visits per year, including reproductive health visits (MHM). Examples include Boston’s Family Van (Family Van) and New York City’s mobile health vans (CHN-Mobile).

Implementation Resources

MHM - Mobile health map (MHM). Impact Report.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

O’Connell 2010* - O’Connell E, Zhang G, Leguen F, Prince J. Impact of a mobile van on prenatal care utilization and birth outcomes in Miami-Dade County. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2010;14(4):528-34.

Edgerley 2007* - Edgerley LP, El-Sayed YY, Druzin ML, Kiernan M, Daniels KI. Use of a community mobile health van to increase early access to prenatal care. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2007;11(3):235-9.

Stefansson 2018* - Stefansson LS, Webb ME, Hebert LE, Masinter L, Gilliam ML. MOBILE-izing adolescent sexual and reproductive health care: A pilot study using a mobile health unit in Chicago. Journal of School Health. 2018;88(3):208-216.

Yu 2017 - Yu SWY, Hill C, Ricks ML, Bennet J, Oriol NE. The scope and impact of mobile health clinics in the United States: A literature review. International Journal for Equity in Health. 2017;16:178.

Hill 2014a - Hill CF, Powers BW, Jain SH, et al. Mobile health clinics in the era of reform. The American Journal of Managed Care. 2014;20(3):261-264.

Gibson 2017* - Gibson BA, Morano JP, Walton MR, et al. Innovative program delivery and determinants of frequent visitation to a mobile medical clinic in an urban setting. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 2017;28(2):643-662.

Martin 2014* - Martin CE, Terplan M, Han J, Chaulk P, Serio-Chapman C. Contraception continuation among female exotic dancers seeking mobile reproductive health services concurrent with syringe exchange. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2014;140:e135.

MHM - Mobile health map (MHM). Impact Report.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

MHM - Mobile health map (MHM). Impact Report.

Family Van - The Family Van. Wellness within reach.

CHN-Mobile - Community Healthcare Network. About our medical mobile van.

Date Last Updated