Study objective: To determine physicians' knowledge and attitudes of medico-legal issues affecting adolescent health care.
Design, setting, participants: A cross-sectional, mailed survey was distributed to 900 randomly selected primary care physicians in Minnesota, and all eligible physicians in Olmsted County.
Interventions: Physicians were mailed a survey with questions concerning Minnesota consent and confidentiality laws.
Main outcome measures: Physician knowledge and attitudes of consent and confidentiality laws.
Results: A total of 317 (26%) surveys were returned. Olmsted county physicians achieved a median score of 37.5% and non-Olmsted physicians achieved a median score of 50% correct on a test of knowledge. Using a scoring scale where -1 signified "a bad law," 0 signified "neither a good nor bad law," and +1 signified "a good law," attitude regarding the laws was a median of +0.5 for both groups. In all, 41.1% of Olmsted physicians and 51.7% of non-Olmsted physicians felt that the laws had affected them or their practice. Olmsted physicians were compared to a cohort of Olmsted parents previously reported, with statistically significant differences noted.
Conclusions: Results suggest that primary care physicians are not knowledgeable of Minnesota laws affecting adolescent health care. Opinion of these laws was positive, with notable exceptions. Physicians lack a sense of impact of laws affecting adolescent health care. Physicians were more knowledgeable and felt more positively about the laws than did parents of adolescents. Lack of knowledge and the presence of certain attitudes identify areas where physicians could benefit from greater understanding.