Don't ask, they won't tell: the quality of adolescent health screening in five practice settings

Am J Public Health. 1996 Dec;86(12):1767-72. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.12.1767.


Objectives: This study examined the extent to which comprehensive, age-appropriate adolescent health screening is undertaken in the clinical setting and whether the extent of such screening varies by setting.

Methods: Charts of adolescents 13 to 17 years old (n = 788) were randomly selected from five practice settings in Minneapolis, Minn. Each was assessed for the number of biomedical and sociobehavioral health risks screened.

Results: In no practice setting was there screening to the level recommended. The two teen clinics screened more extensively for behavioral, psychosocial, substance use and sexual behavior risks than the community family practice setting, which, in turn, screened more extensively than either the private family practice or private pediatric practice settings, which did not differ from each other. Age differences and gender accounted for only small amounts of variance in total number of health risks screened, whereas differences among practice settings accounted for a larger amount.

Conclusions: Results suggest substantive deficiencies in private practice settings' implementation of preventive care screening protocols for adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / standards*
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Minnesota
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Preventive Health Services / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors