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More children expected to seek care at retail clinics
Written by Medical News Feed   

Many department stores and pharmacies today have everything a consumer could ever need – food, clothing, home goods and even a walk-in health care clinic.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Heath finds that 10% of kids have used retail clinics for health care, and use is expected to increase to 15% in the future.

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According to new results from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, there is a growing trend for adults and even children to use retail clinics – often called in-store or convenient care clinics – for routine health care needs, including screening tests and vaccinations.

In fact, the poll found that 10 percent of children and 11 percent of adults have used retail clinics, and that 15 percent of children and 19 percent of adults plan to use these clinics for care in the future. The survey also revealed that for the majority of these children, health care insurance covered the cost of the visit.

“We found that a remarkably high proportion of children and adults have used retail clinics for their health care. This trend, and the fact that parents are so satisfied with the care they have received, suggests that the demand for retail clinic care for children will rise steadily,” says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children’s Health, part of the U-M Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit in the U-M Division of General Pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a policy statement opposing the use of retail-based clinics to treat infants, children and adolescents. The AAP argues that these clinics do not support the "medical home" model, wherein each child has his own health care provider that knows his health care needs and can provide preventive care.  

Regardless, the number of these small walk-in health care clinics, typically staffed by nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, continues to grow. Today, more than 20 companies operate approximately 300 retail clinics in the United States, with an estimated 2,000 or more clinics expected to open by the end of 2008.

Despite the movement toward consumer-driven health care in the United States, and the growing number of retail clinics, very little was known about the children who visit these clinics.

To help characterize children’s use of retail clinics, the National Poll on Children’s Health, in collaboration with Knowledge Networks, Inc., conducted a national online survey in March 2007. The survey was administered to a random sample of 2,076 adults, ages 18 and older, who are a part of Knowledge Network’s online KnowledgePanelSM. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect the U.S. population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The survey found that among parents who had previously taken their child to a retail clinic for care, more than 70 percent planned to return.

The National Poll on Children’s Health also revealed that more than half of parents surveyed reported that their child’s last visit to a retail clinic was covered in full by insurance. In addition, adults said that they were more likely to pay out-of-pocket for their visits than for children’s visits.

Most of the children who use retail clinics for care have an established physician and health care provider too, Davis says. Among the children who had used a retail clinic, 89 percent have a regular physician, compared to 97 percent of children who had not used a retail clinic.

For those children with regular physicians, the use of retail clinics could present challenges in coordination of care between retail clinics and traditional health care providers. For now, Davis says, parents will be responsible for sharing information with their child’s primary physicians to ensure he or she can provide the patient with the best care.

“Parents view retail clinics as a fresh and convenient alternative to taking their child to a doctor’s office for minor health concerns – it saves them time, and most often is covered by their insurance. But there are pros and cons to seeking medical care for your child at these clinics, and we need to make sure that parents have the information they need to make educated consumer decisions,” says Davis, an associate professor of general internal medicine and pediatrics at the U-M Medical School, and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The next C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health will be released on May 2.

About the National Poll on Children’s Health
The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health is funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the U-M Health System. As part of the U-M Division of General Pediatric Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit , the National Poll on Children’s Health is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children. For a copy of the National Poll on Children’s Health, visit For regular podcasts of polling results, go to

About Knowledge Networks
Knowledge Networks delivers quality and service to guide leaders in business, government and academia – uniquely bringing scientifically valid research to the online space through its probability-based, online KnowledgePanelSM. The company delivers unique study design, science, analysis, and panel maintenance, along with a commitment to close collaboration at every stage of the research process. KN leverages its expertise in brands, media, advertising, and public policy issues to provide insights that speak directly to clients’ most important concerns.  For more information about Knowledge Networks, visit

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