HealthDay News — Many college centers may lack the resources to fully care for students with chronic health conditions, according to researchers.

An estimated 20% of youth in the United States have been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition and many of these youth attend college away from home

“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,” explained Diana Lemly, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues in Pediatrics.

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To evaluate college health center policies, practices, and resources for young students with chronic medical conditions, the investigators conducted a survey involving medical directors at 153 public and private colleges across the United States. Patterns of identification, management, and support for youth with a general chronic medical condition and with asthma, diabetes, and depression were investigated.

Overall, 83% of those surveyed reported that their center could care for students with persistent asthma, and 69% reported that they could help students with depression who were requesting therapy. Just over half (51%) said they could care for students with type 1 diabetes.

When the medical directors were asked how they colleges reached out to students, 42% said their center had no system for identifying incoming students with chronic illnesses. And 24% said they contacted students to make a first-time appointment, which was more common at small, private colleges.

Colleges should be encouraged to build systems to identify, monitor, and support these youth in alignment with pediatric providers. Evolving financing and care coordination models through payers, Accountable Care Organizations, and other networks should incorporate student health to prevent youth with chronic medical conditions from falling between system-wide cracks,” concluded the researchers.


  1. Lemly D et al. Pediatrics. 2014; doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1304