Health risk screening in adolescents: room for improvement in a tertiary inpatient setting

Med J Aust. 2005 Oct 17;183(8):427-9. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2005.tb07110.x.


Objective: To determine the extent to which comprehensive health screening of adolescents was undertaken in a tertiary inpatient setting.

Design and setting: Retrospective review of 100 consecutive medical records of 13-18-year-old adolescents admitted to The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne (first 20 consecutive admissions in 2001 to each of five units--general medicine, adolescent medicine, specialty medicine, general surgery, and specialty surgery).

Main outcome measures: Documentation of screening for biomedical (height, weight, pubertal staging, and hepatitis B vaccination) and psychosocial concerns (HEADSS framework categorised into four screening levels--none, incomplete, adequate, thorough). Risks identified and actions taken.

Results: Weight was recorded for 98 patients, height for 17, pubertal staging for 12, and hepatitis B vaccination status for nine. Documentation of psychosocial screening was absent from 62 charts, inadequate in 29, thorough in three, and complete in seven charts. Adolescent medicine inpatients were more likely than patients in other units to have any screening of psychosocial risk recorded and more likely to be thoroughly screened (P < 0.005). Screening was more often documented for less sensitive issues (eg, home, tobacco) than higher risk behaviours (eg, illicit drug use) (P = 0.013). When screening identified risks, appropriate action was undertaken in most cases.

Conclusions: This study highlights deficiencies in comprehensive health screening in adolescents admitted to a tertiary children's hospital. These results support the development of more consistent approaches to screening adolescent inpatients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Size
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance Abuse Detection / statistics & numerical data
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data
  • Victoria