Why It's Important To Let Teens Talk To Their Doctors... Alone

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Next time you take your teen for a check-up, it's important to give them some space. According to a new study, teens are more likely to discuss important topics with their doctors, such as sexual health and drug use, if their parents are out of the room. The study found that the most topics were discussed when parents were there for part of the visit, but left the room for the remainder of the time.

Matthew Aalsma, child psychologist and the study's author, told Reuters Health,

We have to recognize that adolescents have their own life, and we have to talk to them alone to make sure they’re doing well.

For his research, Aalsma surveyed more than 500 teens ages 13-17, along with their parents. They asked if their last doctor's visit included confidential conversations. The study found that almost half of the teens whose parents were outside of the room said the visit would have gone differently, had their parents been inside the whole time.

This makes sense, so that teens can have a safe space to discuss everything from stress to mental health, to drugs and alcohol. These were the topics teens were more likely to discuss when left alone. It provides an opportunity for the teens to be honest and the doctors to really talk about the dangers of drinking, or provide them the help they need for other issues.


Did you know there's a health and well-being magazine for teens? Subscribe to Choices today, and check out past stories, including "From Gah! To Ahhh..." and "Your Gross-Out Guide."