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J Adolesc Health. 2009 Jan;44(1):48-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.06.018. Epub 2008 Oct 25.

Discussion of sensitive health topics with youth during primary care visits: relationship to youth perceptions of care.

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  • 1Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Washington, DC 20024, USA. jbrown@mathematica-mpr.com

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Youth have concerns about sensitive health topics, such as drugs, sex, and mental health, and many wish to discuss those concerns with a primary care provider. Research has not determined whether the discussion of sensitive health topics during primary care visits is independently associated with youth perceptions of care. This study examined whether the discussion of sensitive health topics during primary care visits was associated with youth's perceptions of the provider and of participation in treatment.

METHODS:

Directly after visits to 54 primary care providers in 13 geographically diverse offices and clinics, youth age 11-16 years old (N = 358) reported whether the visit included the discussion of mood, behavior, getting along with others, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, sexuality, birth control, parent mood, or family problems. Youth also reported whether the provider understood their problems, eased their worries, allowed them to make decisions about treatment, gave them some control over treatment, and asked them to take some responsibility for treatment. Providers reported confidence in their ability to offer counseling for nonmedical concerns and their beliefs and attitudes toward treating nonmedical concerns.

RESULTS:

Youth had more positive perceptions of the provider and were more likely to report taking an active role in treatment when the visit included the discussion of a sensitive health topic. Results from multivariate random effects logistic regression suggested that youth were more likely to report that the provider understood their problems (OR = 3.62, CI = 1.57-8.31), eased their worries (OR = 2.13, CI = 1.06-3.92), allowed them to make decisions about treatment (OR = 2.71, CI = 1.44-5.10), gave them some control over treatment (OR = 2.51, CI = 1.32-4.71), and asked them to take some responsibility for treatment (OR = 2.00, CI = 1.04-3.86) when the visit included the discussion of one or more sensitive health topics. The odds of each of these outcomes were also higher when the visit included the discussion of a greater number of sensitive topics. Youth also had more positive perceptions of female providers. Youth demographics, mental health status, and other provider characteristics were unrelated to youth perceptions of care.

CONCLUSIONS:

The discussion of sensitive health topics during primary care visits may have a positive impact on youth perceptions of care. Future research is needed to understand the relationship between the discussion of sensitive health topics and health outcomes among youth.

PMID:
19101458
PMCID:
PMC2630026
DOI:
10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.06.018
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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