Most American teens don't receive the appropriate amount of preventive health services, even though this type of care can establish good health behaviors and discourage damaging behaviors that can affect teens for the rest of their life, a new study finds.
The University of California, San Francisco, researchers analyzed data gathered from almost 8,500 adolescents, ages 10 to 17, who took part in the Medical Expenditure Survey, a national survey of families and medical providers. The UCSF team focused on several aspects of preventive care for adolescents, including the extent to which they'd received care in the past year, whether they received counseling about various health issues, and whether they had any time alone with their health-care provider.
The study found that only 38% of these young people had a preventive health visit in the past year.
Irwin and colleagues also examined the extent to which doctors counseled teens or parents about six specific preventive health issues — dental care, healthy eating, regular exercise, wearing a seat belt, wearing a bicycle helmet, and being exposed to secondhand smoke. Less than half of the teens who had a preventive health visit were counseled about at least one of these issues, and only 10% were counseled about all six.
The study was published online March 30 in the journal Pediatrics.