Visiting a pediatrician's office for adolescent and young adult care involves a range of considerations, including confidentiality, discussions about substance use, sexual health, and social and emotional well-being. Here's what you can generally expect during these visits:
Substance Use Information:
- Pediatricians often prioritize privacy and confidentiality when it comes to discussing adolescent health issues. They may start by explaining their commitment to confidentiality and the exceptions to this rule. In general, pediatricians will keep discussions with teenagers confidential unless they feel that your child is not safe in any way.
- Pediatricians routinely ask about substance use during check-ups. They may inquire about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use to assess potential risks to a teenager's health and well-being.
- The pediatrician will discuss the dangers of substance use, provide education on the effects of drugs and alcohol, and offer guidance on making healthy choices.
- If there are concerns about substance abuse or addiction, the pediatrician may recommend further evaluation, counseling, or referral to a specialist.
Social and Emotional Health:
- Discussions about sexual health are an important part of adolescent care. Pediatricians will provide information about puberty, sexual development, and safe sex practices.
- They may discuss topics like contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the importance of regular check-ups for sexually active individuals.
- Conversations about sexual health can be confidential, but pediatricians will also encourage open communication between teenagers and their parents or guardians.
Preventive Care and Screenings:
- Pediatricians will ask about a teenager's emotional and social well-being. They may inquire about stressors, mental health concerns, and relationships with friends and family.
- Starting at the 12 year old visit, pediatricians screen for social/emotional health with a screening tool called the PHQ-9 survey. It is important that your child fill it out independently.
- If necessary, the pediatrician can provide guidance on managing stress, addressing mental health issues, and accessing appropriate resources, such as therapy or counseling services.
- They may also discuss topics like bullying, peer pressure, and healthy communication skills.
Education and Counseling:
- Routine check-ups during adolescence may include physical exams, vaccinations, and screenings for conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Pediatricians will track growth and development, offering guidance on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including nutrition and exercise.
Growth and Development Assessment:
- Pediatricians use these visits to educate teenagers about the importance of healthy behaviors, like eating well, staying active, and getting enough sleep.
- They can offer guidance on topics such as online safety, responsible use of technology, and driver safety.
- Pediatricians will monitor the physical and emotional development of adolescents and address any concerns or questions they have.
Time Alone with the Teenager:
- Adolescents may receive recommended vaccines during these visits, such as the HPV vaccine and booster shots for certain diseases, such as meningitis.
- Pediatricians often provide teenagers with some time alone during the visit to encourage open and honest communication. This allows teenagers to ask questions or discuss concerns they may not feel comfortable sharing with their parents present.
It's essential for both parents/guardians and teenagers to actively participate in these visits and engage in open communication with the pediatrician. These appointments are designed to provide comprehensive care and support for the physical, emotional, and social well-being of adolescents and young adults.