Effective communication between physicians and adolescents depends on a trusting relationship and the ability to speak openly. Given that adolescents visit a doctor's office an average of three times each year, it is important that doctors use these opportunities to convey health information, provide counseling, and catch emerging health problems. A new survey by The Commonwealth Fund, however, found that many adolescents are embarrassed to raise sensitive topics with their doctors, and doctors appear to prefer talking about safer issues.
The Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls found considerable discordance between the topics adolescents wish to discuss and what they actually discuss with their physicians. As the chart below indicates, adolescent girls want far more information on a range of topics, such as drinking, taking drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, and eating disorders, than they currently receive. Older adolescents in particular feel their doctors should discuss risky health behaviors with them.