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​Twenty percent of youth attending college have a chronic medical condition, yet relatively few U. S. colleges have the proper health resources to identify or support these students.

In the November 2014 Pediatrics study, “College Health Service Capacity to Support Youth With Chronic Medical Conditions,” researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of medical directors from the health centers of 200 four-year colleges in the U.S.

They were asked about their capacity to identify and care for students with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and depression. Overall, 42 percent of schools had no system in place to identify youth with chronic medical conditions. Almost a third (31 percent) reported creating a registry of youth with chronic health conditions on review of incoming health records, while approximately one-quarter of schools contact incoming youth with chronic medical conditions to schedule an initial appointment or check-in. This outreach was more likely done in private or smaller schools.

Study authors conclude that although many schools can provide services and management for some primary care conditions, most schools do not provide adequate tracking or follow-up for youth with chronic medical conditions, and even fewer contact them for an initial appointment. Colleges are encouraged to increase the scope and availability of these systems to help students maintain disease control and achieve personal and academic success.

Editor’s Note: This issue includes a related commentary, “College Student Health in the 21st Century.”

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