The Critical Role of Physicians in Adolescent Well Care


While helping adolescents avoid unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse is necessarily a community-wide initiative, primary care providers are in a great position to support teens and their families in this effort. Indeed, a healthy transition to adulthood relies on having a non-judgmental adult who can offer accurate information about sensitive topics like sex, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, body image issues, smoking, depression, and substance use/abuse, among others.

Motivational interviewing can provide a framework to help you engage young patients and families in discussions that can lead to necessary behavioral changes, promoting physical and mental wellness. The core principles of this communication technique are designed to help patients take responsibility for their behavior and motivate and empower them to make healthier choices.

  • Listen with empathy and without judgment.
  • Address the incongruence between a patient’s goals or values and their current behavior.
  • Resist arguing.
  • Counter resistance to change by reframing the issue in a non-confrontational way that acknowledges your patient’s perspective.
  • Express support of your patient and optimism about the possibility of change.

Learn more about motivational interviewing and its application to adolescent well care. You can also call the CDPHP Single Source Referral Line if you would like assistance with these conversations or need to refer an adolescent for services. Call toll free: 1-888-94- CDPHP (23747).

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