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Study: Teens too dependent on parents during health care visits :

December 15, 2015

Teens often aren’t taking the lead when it comes to managing their health care, according to a new report (

The study found parents are the ones tackling tasks like filling out health forms and making decisions about vaccines, but researchers encouraged teens to be more independent.

Teens should be encouraged to fill out health paperwork and ask questions during their checkups. AAP News photo by Jeff KnoxTeens should be encouraged to fill out health paperwork and ask questions during their checkups. AAP News photo by Jeff Knox“As teenagers transition to adulthood, they should gradually increase responsibility for their own health and healthcare. … Routine check-ups offer an opportunity for teens to practice these skills,” the study said.

The data come from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s National Poll on Children’s Health. Parents of teens ages 13-18 were asked a series of questions about who would take which actions during their teen’s checkup — the parent only, teen only or both. Responses from 1,517 parents showed:

  • 89% of parents attend their teen’s checkups;

  • 70% of parents make decisions about vaccines themselves;

  • 65% of parents complete health history forms themselves;

  • 64% of parents and teens discuss physical health problems together;

  • 57% of parents and teens ask questions about health issues together;

  • 56% of parents and teens discuss emotional or behavioral problems together; and

  • the percentages of teens taking any of these actions alone ranged from 7% (completing forms) to 16% (discussing physical problems).

Parents reported their teens often are not comfortable talking to a doctor about health issues so they do it for them. Furthermore, only 34% of parents said the health care professional talked privately with the teen at their most recent visit.

Researchers said teens should take responsibility for their health and can do so by jotting down problems and questions before appointments and filling out forms. During the visit, teens should be encouraged to speak for themselves.

“The early opportunities to gain skills and confidence, with a parent nearby for guidance, will pave the way for teens to navigate the health care system when they become adults,” according to the study.

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