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J Pediatr. 1990 Mar;116(3):456-62.

Computer-assisted detection and intervention in adolescent high-risk health behaviors.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Hawaii School of Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Honolulu, Hawaii.


Because adolescents avoid bringing sensitive issues, such as substance abuse, suicide, and sexual activity, to pediatricians, and may fail to realize that they need health education or services, a computer program was designed to facilitate reporting of high-risk psychosocial and health behaviors and to provide specific health advice and referral for timely professional intervention. Computer printouts done anonymously by a random sample of 265 adolescents after a physical examination were compared with those of a matched group of 294 who were predirected to share the printout with the clinician at their examinations. The former elicited more positive responses to sensitive health problems, but both computer groups responded significantly more often about most high-risk issues than a matched written questionnaire group of 251. Almost all adolescents said that they reported true information to the computer and read all the information it printed. Experience with 3327 teenagers demonstrated that 89% preferred the computer over a questionnaire or personal interview, but nearly all were willing to share the printout with the pediatrician, which should facilitate clinical evaluation. The nonjudgmental computer can identify problem areas and deliver automated medical advice and referral. Automated health assessment and education may become a useful adjunct for addressing adolescent health issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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