School-based health clinics with reproductive health services

Evidence Rating  
Some Evidence
Evidence rating: Some Evidence

Strategies with this rating are likely to work, but further research is needed to confirm effects. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall.

Health Factors  

School-based health clinics provide a variety of health care services to attending students. Many middle and high school-based clinics offer reproductive services, which generally include abstinence and contraception counseling, pregnancy and STI testing, and may also distribute contraceptives. Such clinics also sometimes offer prenatal care1. Clinics are most frequently located in urban and rural neighborhoods with residents of lower socio-economic status2, 3; in 2013-14, about 70% of students attending schools with clinics were racial or ethnic minorities4.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Reduced low birthweight births

  • Reduced teen births

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Increased use of contraception

  • Increased reproductive health care

  • Reduced teen pregnancy

  • Increased preventive care

  • Improved student attendance

  • Increased high school completion

What does the research say about effectiveness? This strategy is rated some evidence.

There is some evidence that school-based health clinics (SBHCs) that provide reproductive health services reduce birth rates2, 5, 6, especially among African American and Hispanic teens2, and reduce the likelihood of low birthweight births1, 3. However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

SBHCs that offer contraception may increase receipt of reproductive health care7 and prenatal care3 among teen girls. Overall, evidence indicates that SBHCs do not increase contraceptive use, though several recent studies suggest that in some circumstances they may increase use among teen girls3, 7, 8. Clinics that offer contraception appear to increase contraception receipt among sexually active students more than clinics that offer health assessments or counseling only9.

School-based clinics with reproductive health services may reduce absenteeism and dropout rates among pregnant and parenting teens1 but do not appear to have a significant effect on dropout rates overall2.

Some school-based clinics may offer patients screening and advice about substance abuse, nutrition, physical or sexual abuse, mental health, and preventing repeat pregnancies more frequently than community clinics1. Ease of access10 and confidential services are often cited as incentives for teens to use these clinic services8

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to decrease disparities.
Implementation Examples

Many school-based health clinics (SBHCs) offer reproductive health services. Services provided vary, most often including pregnancy testing (80.2%), STI diagnosis and treatment (69.5%), and pap tests (45.3%). As of a 2013-2014 census of SBHCs, just over half of all SBHCs are restricted from dispensing contraceptives, most often by district policy. The portion of SBHCs that dispense contraceptives has been increasing for the past decade. As of 2013-2014, 96.8% of SBHCs that dispense contraceptives dispense barrier methods, 82.9% hormonal methods, 73.3% emergency contraception, and 39.8% provide implantable devices4.

Implementation Resources

CA SBHA - California School-Based Health Alliance (CA SBHA). Putting health where kids are.

NYC DOE-SBHC - New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE). School-Based Health Centers (SBHC).

SBHA - School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA). Redefining health for kids and teens.


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1 Strunk 2008 - Strunk JA. The effect of school-based health clinics on teenage pregnancy and parenting outcomes: An integrated literature review. The Journal of School Nursing. 2008;24(1):13-20.

2 NBER-Lovenheim 2016 - Lovenheim M, Reback R, Wedenoja L. How does access to health care affect teen fertility and high school dropout rates? Evidence from school-based health centers. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). 2016: Working Paper 22030.

3 CG-SBHC - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Social determinants of health: School-based health centers (SBHCs). 2015.

4 SBHA-SBHC - School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA). The 2016-2017 National School-Based Health Care Census: School-based health centers (SBHC).

5 Owen 2010 - Owen J, Carroll C, Cooke J, et al. School-linked sexual health services for young people (SSHYP): A survey and systematic review concerning current models, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and research opportunities. Health Technology Assessment. 2010;14(30).

6 Ricketts 2006 - Ricketts SA, Guernsey BP. School-based health centers and the decline in black teen fertility during the 1990s in Denver, Colorado. American Journal of Public Health. 2006;96(9):1588-92.

7 Ethier 2011 - Ethier KA, Dittus PJ, DeRosa CJ, et al. School-based health center access, reproductive health care, and contraceptive use among sexually experienced high school students. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2011;48(6):562-5.

8 Keeton 2012 - Keeton V, Soleimanpour S, Brindis CD. School-based health centers in an era of health care reform: Building on history. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. 2012;42(6):132-156.

9 Blank 2010 - Blank L, Baxter SK, Payne N, Guillaume LR, Pilgrim H. Systematic review and narrative synthesis of the effectiveness of contraceptive service interventions for young people, delivered in educational settings. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. 2010;23(6):341-51.

10 Mason-Jones 2012 - Mason-Jones AJ, Crisp C, Momberg M, et al. A systematic review of the role of school-based healthcare in adolescent sexual, reproductive, and mental health. Systematic Reviews. 2012;1:49.

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