Adolescents Are Not Receiving Adequate Counseling On Health Issues

Author: Dan Merenstein
Date: March 15, 2001

(North American Primary Care Research Group) Family physicians, general practitioners and pediatricians need to significantly increase the frequency and duration of their counseling of adolescents on critical adolescent health issues (such as diet and nutrition, exercise, weight reduction, cholesterol reduction, human immunodeficiency virus transmission, injury prevention and tobacco use) when they present for a clinical visit. This is the conclusion of an analysis of data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) for the three-year period from 1995 through 1997. Of the 91,395 physician-reported NAMCS visits during this period, 4,242 (4.6 percent) were made by adolescents who were 12 to 19 years of age. Visits to family physicians, general practitioners or pediatricians accounted for 1,846 of adolescent visits. Pediatricians counseled adolescents more than family physicians and general practitioners on all health issues except weight reduction and cholesterol reduction. The average duration of all visits was 14.7 minutes, and 14.2 minutes and 15.6 minutes for family physicians/general practitioners and pediatricians, respectively. The average duration of a visit increased from 13.8 minutes to 17.6 minutes if counseling was performed.--DAN MERENSTEIN, M.D., ET AL., The Robert Graham Center: Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care, American Academy of Family Physicians, Washington, D.C.

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