Author(s): Akinbami LJ, Gandhi H, Cheng TL
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Little is known about availability of services and confidential care for adolescents in primary care practices or how availability among pediatric practices compares to that among other primary care practices. The objective of this study was to assess self-reported availability of services for medically emancipated conditions and confidential care in primary care practices, to compare physician responses to those from office staff who answer appointment lines, and to compare availability in pediatric practices to other primary care practice types. METHODS: We conducted a telephone survey of randomly selected practices from the Washington, DC, metropolitan area in pediatrics (Peds), internal medicine (IM), and family medicine (FM). We asked staff who answer appointment lines about availability of services for medically emancipated conditions and confidential appointments for adolescents. Physicians received the same questions via a mail survey. Responses from office staff and physicians in the same practice were linked for comparison. RESULTS: Of 434 practices contacted by telephone, 372 (86\%) responded. Of the 615 physicians surveyed from these 372 practices, 264 (43\%) from 170 practices responded to the mail survey. Peds practices were less likely than FM and IM practices to offer services for medically emancipated conditions and were less likely than FM practices to offer confidential services to adolescents. Office staff and physicians from FM and IM had higher agreement compared with Peds about availability of services for medically emancipated conditions. Agreement between office staff and physicians about provision of confidential appointments to adolescents was low among all practice types. However, having a written office policy on adolescent confidentiality was significantly associated with agreement between office staff and physicians about availability of confidential services. CONCLUSIONS: Care for medically emancipated conditions and confidential services for adolescents are limited among primary care practices, especially among pediatric practices. All primary care practice types had significant disagreement between office staff and physicians about availability of confidential services to adolescents. Adolescents who call appointment lines are likely to receive inaccurate information about confidentiality policies. Establishing written office policies on adolescent confidentiality may help to improve access to confidential care for adolescents.
This article was published in Pediatrics
and referenced in Clinics in Mother and Child Health