Help Adolescents Receive Clinical Preventive Services
Both parents and healthcare providers can help adolescents receive recommended clinical preventive services by taking advantage of every visit. Sick visits can also be used to offer some preventive care. Get more information from Health.gov for parents of adolescents ages 11-14 and parents of teens ages 15-17. The U.S. Surgeon General’s website offers My Family Health Portrait, an accessible, private, and internet-based way to record your family’s health history.
Parents can take several steps when it comes to ensuring preventive care for their adolescent. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Bright Futures initiative has educational handouts for parents and adolescent patients to prepare for visits to a healthcare provider. Additionally, Health.gov provides strategies for parents of adolescents to make the most out of adolescent healthcare check-ups, and GotTransition.org provides a number of resources, tools, and frequently asked questions for parents and caregivers about transitioning their children from pediatric to adult care.
- Help adolescents learn their health history. It is important to have an adolescent’s documented medical history, as healthcare providers use that information to personalize preventive care. If you or your healthcare provider does not have your teen’s immunization records, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccines section for tips on how to obtain them. The website also gives information on how parents can help adolescents stay up to date on vaccines.
- Make a list of questions before the visit. A preventive visit is the perfect time to ask healthcare providers about an adolescent’s medical conditions (e.g., allergies) or changes in behavior or mood (e.g., a sudden lack of interest in favorite activities). Parents also may want to ask the provider whether their adolescent is getting enough physical activity and sleep, whether they are at a healthy weight, what immunizations they require, and how to talk to their teen about sex and healthy relationships.
- Encourage teens to make the most of an appointment. Guiding teens to be more involved in their healthcare can help them begin to take charge of their health. Adolescents can learn how to fill out medical forms, find the member and plan numbers on an insurance card, read the patient privacy notice, and prepare their own list of questions. The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine’s THRIVE app provides tools for parents to help promote health literacy with their adolescents. The app contains an extensive library of health and wellness information and provides parents with helpful conversation starters on sensitive topics.
- Know what to expect. There are two parts to most preventive visits: a discussion with adolescents and parents as well as a physical exam. During the physical exam, healthcare providers generally will check an adolescent’s height and weight, vision, hearing, and blood pressure. Providers will also determine whether an adolescent needs any immunizations or lab tests.