Approach to assessing adolescents on serious or sensitive issues

Pediatr Clin North Am. 1998 Feb;45(1):189-204. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(05)70589-7.


For some young people, adolescence is a time of experimentation with high-risk behaviors that can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Providers of adolescent health care need to become comfortable screening their patients for involvement with sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, violence, and mental health issues. This includes taking into consideration not only the patient's age and development status, but their rights to confidentiality and comprehensive health care. Several tools such as HEADSS interview and the CAGE questionnaire can easily be used to screen for high-risk behaviors. By taking the time to get to know adolescent patients, it is possible to identify problems early and intervene while the adolescent is amenable to treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent Medicine
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Medical History Taking
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*