News Picture: Many Teens, Young Adults Don't Get Private Time With Doctors

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MONDAY, Jan. 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Having confidential talks with a health care provider is important for teens and young adults, but they rarely get the chance to do so, a new study finds.

“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,” said lead author Stephanie Grilo. She’s a doctoral candidate in sociomedical sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

“Regular providers need to begin discussion of private time and confidentiality at earlier ages,” Grilo added in a university news release.

In the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 1,900 respondents, aged 13 to 26, who took part in a 2016 nationwide online survey.

Overall, only 55 percent of females said they’d ever had private time with their health care provider or a confidential discussion. Among males, the rates were 49 percent for having private time and 44 percent for a confidential discussion.

Among 13- and 14-year-olds, 22 percent of girls and 14 percent of boys had ever had private time with a health care provider. Among young adults, only 68 percent of women and 61 percent of men had ever had private time with their health care provider.

Authors of the study, published Jan. 9 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, said professional guidelines recommend that teens and young adults have access to confidential services and opportunities to talk privately with their provider without a parent or someone else in the room.

Female health care providers were more likely to initiate discussions with young women but not with young men, the study found.

It also found that teens and young adults who were sexually active had higher rates of private time or discussing confidentiality. Researchers said this suggests providers are more likely to initiate such actions with young patients involved in risky behaviors.

Patients who had had private time and/or confidentiality discussions had more positive attitudes about their provider and preventive services such as vaccinations, screening and counseling, according to the study.

“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.”

— Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, news release, Jan. 9, 2019