Young patients have trouble getting private talks with doctors

By Tauren Dyson

Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Only half of young people in the U.S. ever get private time with their doctors, according to a new study.

Patients between ages 13 and 26 who report talking confidentially during appointments should have more positive attitudes about their healthcare provider and clinical preventive services, like screening, counseling and vaccinations, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.


"Discussing confidentiality and having private time with a provider are critical components of comprehensive clinical preventive services for young people, however about half of young people report never having had these with their provider," Stephanie Grilo, a doctoral researcher at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and study lead author, said in a press release. "Regular providers need to begin discussion of private time and confidentiality at earlier ages."

Only 14 percent of male patients between ages 13 and 14 and 22 percent of female patients between ages 13 and 14 had ever spoken without their parents present to a healthcare provider.

However, young people who have engaged in sexual activity and other risky behavior are more likely to speak in private to their healthcare provider, the data showed. Researchers think this might mean doctors are starting private conversations with younger patients they know engage in at-risk behaviors.


This has led to calls for teens to have more confidential sex healthcare talks with doctors.

Although, some reports suggest doctors aren't all that comfortable discussing sex with teen patients.

Despite the low numbers among teens, young adults seem to have more comfort talking to healthcare providers. About 61 percent of young men and 68 percent of young women have spoken confidentially with their doctor.

The study says the rate of private conversations with doctors goes up as the age and income of the patient increases.

"The gap between clinical recommendations and practice means there is a need for education of parents, providers and adolescents on the importance of private time and confidentiality for adolescent and young adult care," Grilo said. "Private time and confidentiality can enhance preventive care for young people in the United States."

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