In this section
Adolescence is a transition period between childhood and adulthood. It is a stressful developmental period filled with major changes in physical maturity and sexuality, cognitive processes (ways of thinking and thought content), emotional feelings, and relationships with others. Addressing the healthcare needs of this age group requires not only addressing identified health concerns, but also considering the complicated interactions of developmental changes on healthcare needs, the effectiveness of treatment, health education, and health promotion.
As adolescents begin to take responsibility for their own health, education and promotion of preventive healthcare is very important. Teaching preventive healthcare (about topics such as pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, the effects of smoking, the need for immunizations, and substance use) and providing health education regarding specific healthcare needs to adolescents requires special consideration and effort to ensure understanding and encourage compliance. The Society for Adolescent Medicine identified seven criteria to providing healthcare to teenagers including the following:
- Availability of age-appropriate services.
- Visibility of adolescent, preventive, healthcare guidelines.
- Quality care.
- Confidentiality of medical information requiring adolescent consent (with encouragement of family involvement).
- Affordability of access to care.
- Flexibility of healthcare providers to recognize and respond to individual and diverse needs of adolescents.
- Coordination of medical, mental health, social, and other services.