Teens' Health-Related Social Problems Often Overlooked

Article excerpt

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Adolescents are seldom screened for health-related social problems, research suggests.

Among 362 patients, aged 15-25 years surveyed in an urban, adolescent/young adult medicine clinic, the rate of screening in the previous year by any health care provider averaged 40% per health-related social domain.

Adolescents experience a broad range of social problems that can deleteriously affect their health, Dr. Eric W. Fleegler said at the meeting. "We need to implement universal screening for health-related social problems, and we need to develop the systems that will provide our patients with the needed referrals," he said.

Yet, office visits during adolescence are often limited by insurance protocols, even though these young people may need more frequent visits during certain times of transition and major life changes, he said.

Among the nine domains (housing problems, food insecurity, nutrition and fitness, education, substance abuse, interpersonal violence, safety equipment, income security, and health care access), 9% of patients were screened for all and 15% were screened for none.

Screening rates were lowest for housing problems and food insecurity at 29% each. The top three screening rates were for nutrition and fitness at 66%, education at 56%, and substance abuse at 52%. …

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