Social-Ecological Barriers to Access to Healthcare for Adolescents: A Scoping Review. Academic Article uri icon


  • Access to healthcare for adolescents is often overlooked in the United States due to federal and state-sponsored insurance programs such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. While these types of programs provide some relief, the issue of healthcare access goes beyond insurance coverage and includes an array of ecological factors that hinder youths from receiving services. The purpose of this scoping review was to identify social-ecological barriers to adolescents' healthcare access and utilization in the United States. We followed the PRISMA and scoping review methodological framework to conduct a comprehensive literature search in eight electronic databases for peer-reviewed articles published between 2010 and 2020. An inductive content analysis was performed to thematize the categories identified in the data extraction based on the Social-Ecological Model (SEM). Fifty studies were identified. Barriers across the five SEM levels emerged as primary themes within the literature, including intrapersonal-limited knowledge of and poor previous experiences with healthcare services, interpersonal-cultural and linguistic barriers, organizational-structural barriers in healthcare systems, community-social stigma, and policy-inadequate insurance coverage. Healthcare access for adolescents is a systems-level problem requiring a multifaceted approach that considers complex and adaptive behaviors.

published proceedings

  • Int J Environ Res Public Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Garney, W., Wilson, K., Ajayi, K. V., Panjwani, S., Love, S. M., Flores, S., Garcia, K., & Esquivel, C.

complete list of authors

  • Garney, Whitney||Wilson, Kelly||Ajayi, Kobi V||Panjwani, Sonya||Love, Skylar M||Flores, Sara||Garcia, Kristen||Esquivel, Christi

publication date

  • April 2021