Purpose: To determine current adolescent health care practices of pediatricians and evaluate whether changes have taken place during the past decade.
Methods: A questionnaire completed by 101 pediatricians in 1985 was abbreviated and adapted by Committee on Youth of Chapter 2, District II of the American Academy of Pediatrics and sent to 1,633 members of the Chapter in June 1993.
Results: Forty-three percent of the 436 respondents in 1993 were female, 43% < or = 40 years of age and 53% were in private practice. Most accept new patients > or = 16 years of age (76%), continue to see patients > or = 19 years of age (63%), and interview adolescents without their parents (86%). Although between one-third and two-thirds of respondents report having equipment for gynecologic examinations, most indicate they are "not entirely comfortable" treating adolescent issues and therefore refer to others for management. Between one-quarter and one-half indicate they are "very interested" in learning more about adolescent issues and an additional 40-50% are "somewhat interested." Obstacles to providing adolescent care include: "image as a baby doctor" (65%), fear that parents would object (61%), no separate hours (57%), difficulty in providing confidential care (56%), and difficulty in charging appropriate fees (47%). Females and younger pediatricians are more comfortable with some aspects of gynecologic care and more likely to be satisfied with the adolescent care they are providing. There were few differences between responses in 1993 and 1995.
Conclusions: Few of the pediatricians surveyed provide comprehensive care to adolescent patients. Future policy decisions and medical education must respond to these realities in pediatric practice.