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J Adolesc Health. 2004 Aug;35(2):101-7.

Provider self-efficacy and the screening of adolescents for risky health behaviors.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, and The Research and Policy Center for Childhood and Adolescence, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.



To examine the extent to which providers' perceived self-efficacy to deliver adolescent preventive services relates to their screening practices.


Screening rates were determined by both provider self-reported screening practices and the independent report of the adolescent patient. First, 66 pediatric providers (pediatricians and nurse-practitioners), working in three pediatric clinics within a managed care organization, completed surveys assessing: (a) self-efficacy for screening adolescent patients in the areas of tobacco use, alcohol use, sexual behavior, seat belt use, and helmet use; and (b) self-reported screening of adolescents during well-visits over the past month. Second, a sample of patients, aged 14 years to 16 years, reported on whether their clinicians screened them for these behaviors during a well-visit. Adolescents completed reports (N = 323) immediately following the well visit. Data were analyzed using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients.


Provider self-efficacy to deliver preventive services was correlated with self-reported screening in each of the five content areas, ranging from r = .24 (p < .05) for seat belt use to r = .51 (p < .001) for helmet use. Provider self-efficacy was significantly related to adolescent reports of screening in three of the five content areas; r = .25 (p < .05) for sexual behavior and tobacco use; and r = .23 (p = .06) for alcohol use.


Providers' self-efficacy to screen adolescents for risky behaviors was significantly related to both clinician self-report and independent adolescent reports of screening during well-visits. These findings point to the importance of enhancing clinicians' sense of competence to deliver adolescent preventive services.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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