Who accompanies a child to the office of the physician?

Int J Adolesc Med Health. Oct-Dec 2008;20(4):513-8. doi: 10.1515/ijamh.2008.20.4.513.


The arrival of a minor, unaccompanied by a parent, for a clinic visit, is challenging to the physician with legal, ethical, and practical implications. This prospective study, conducted in three community pediatric clinics, examined the relationship of accompanying persons to the minors visiting the clinics. About 90% of the 1,104 visits were with an accompanying parent, mostly a mother. Over 9% of minors, especially adolescents, arrived at the clinic unaccompanied by a parent. A regression analysis demonstrated that for each increase of one month in age there was a 2% increased chance for a visit without a parent (p < .0001). Adolescents were more likely to be among the 6% of minors, who visited the clinic alone, with a rate 0.066 per 1,000 visits in the more affluent community, compared to 0.019 and 0.016 in the middle and low income communities (p < .001). Physicians as well as parents should be made aware of the regulations regarding accompaniment of minors on a visit to the clinic. Policies regarding unaccompanied visits should take into account the risk posed by the absence of a parent versus the right of adolescents for independence and privacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Israel
  • Minors* / psychology
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Regression Analysis