School-based health centers, academic achievement, and school discipline: A systematic review of the literature

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Children and Youth Services Review


School-based health centers (SBHCs) mitigate the long-term effects of poor health on children and adolescents. Although varied in staffing patterns and services provided, SBHCs aim to advance health equity among populations with histories and ongoing experiences of oppression. Reforms in education policy and the growing recognition of the role schools have in social mobility and economic prosperity beg the question of whether SBHCs demonstrably promote educational success alongside improved health outcomes. However, the current literature to elucidate the relationship between SBHCs and educational outcomes is limited. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the recent evidence linking SBHCs and educational outcomes. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, this review explored and summarized studies examining SBHCs and educational outcomes. A total of 16 articles met the criteria for inclusion. School attendance was the most commonly observed academic outcome, while school discipline outcomes were understudied. Each publication included varying amounts and types of information delineating SBHC characteristics. The findings of this systematic review indicate that despite the expansion of SBHCs, there remains limited research studying the relationship between SBHCs and educational outcomes. Future research will benefit from accessing data for a broader array of outcome variables. Given the heterogeneity of SBHCs, it will be important for future studies to describe the delivery model, provider teams, types of service, and funding structures of SBHCs in detail.