Interviewing techniques with adolescents in primary care

J Adolesc Health. 1997 Apr;20(4):300-5. doi: 10.1016/S1054-139X(96)00284-4.


Purpose: Privacy is of utmost concern to adolescents seeking advice regarding life-style and behavior choices. Lack of privacy and confidential health services are barriers to adolescents' access to health care. This study describes primary care physicians' practices with regard to inviting parent(s) to leave the room in order to interview the teen alone, and the factors associated with use of this technique.

Method: A cross-sectional random survey of 1,630 pediatricians, internists, and family practitioners in a large metropolitan area was performed using a confidential mailed questionnaire.

Results: The majority of the physicians were in private practice, male, board certified, Caucasian, and did not have a subspecialty. Forty-nine percent of the respondents "almost always" or "always" invite parent(s) to leave the room in order to interview the teen alone. Physicians who were female, board certified, and completed residency from 1974-94 were most likely to use this technique. Among physicians who frequently employ this strategy, the decision to interview the teen alone varied according to the clinical scenario. Using logistic regression analysis, only gender and board certification were significantly related to use of this interviewing method.

Conclusion: A large proportion of physicians do not interview their adolescent patients alone, therefore, not affording them privacy to discuss confidential health concerns. Future research should focus on developing and validating methods to teach physicians skills to interview adolescents privately.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services*
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Privacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas