With adolescence being the phase of life transitioning between childhood and adulthood, many physical, emotional and intellectual changes occur during this period, including a push for independence. In the case of the nearly 22% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old with at least one current or lifelong health condition, this possible strive for independence can relate to decisions regarding their health care. A recent article published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care interviewed adolescents with chronic conditions, parents and clinicians about their ideas for facilitating adolescent involvement in decision making during clinical visits.
Decision-making involvement (DMI) refers to how youth are engaged in decisions, including both active youth and adult attempts to involve the youth. During health care visits, adolescent involvement in discussions and decision making is low, even though youth want a shared or active role. Health care providers play an essential role in promoting and fostering decision-making skills in their adolescent patients, setting the stage for patients to feel comfortable conversing with providers throughout all stages of life.
“Parents, adolescents and clinicians all have a role to play in helping adolescents to participate in discussions and decision making during clinic visits,” said Victoria A. Miller, PhD, coauthor of the article. “It is not enough to empower youth to be involved if the broader environment does not allow them to do so.”
Data from this study allowed the authors to propose many ideas to allow adolescents to experience increased DMI opportunities during clinic visits related to pediatric chronic illnesses. Examples include having adolescents prepare in advance of the visit by setting goals for the visit, creating a list of questions for their provider and preparing a list of concerns they would like to address. In addition, participants shared that one-on-one time between clinicians and adolescents was essential in establishing rapport between the provider and patient, allowing youth to open up and clinicians to direct discussion and questions to the youth.
The article “Adolescent, Parent, and Clinician Perspectives on Increasing Adolescent Involvement in Decision Making During Clinic Visits” was published in the September/October edition of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed here.
Oct. 4, 2023