To test the hypotheses that youth with special health care needs (YSHCN) with a medical care transition plan are more likely to use dental care during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood and that different factors are associated with dental utilization for YSHCN with and YSHCN without functional limitations.
National Survey of CSHCN (2001) and Survey of Adult Transition and Health (2007) data were analyzed (N=1,746). The main predictor variable was having a medical care transition plan, defined as having discussed with a doctor how health care needs might change with age and having developed a transition plan. The outcome variable was dental care use in 2001 (adolescence) and 2007 (young adulthood). Multiple variable Poisson regression models with robust standard errors were used to estimate covariate-adjusted relative risks (RR).
About 63% of YSHCN had a medical care transition plan and 73.5% utilized dental care. YSHCN with a medical care transition plan had a 9% greater relative risk (RR) of utilizing dental care than YSHCN without a medical care transition plan (RR:1.09; 95% CI:1.03–1.16). In the models stratified by functional limitation status, having a medical care transition plan was significantly associated with dental care use, but only for YSHCN without functional limitations (RR:1.11; 95% CI:1.04–1.18).
Having a medical care transition plan is significantly associated with dental care use, but only for YSHCN with no functional limitation. Dental care should be an integral part of the comprehensive health care transition planning process for all YSHCN.