Parents of infants and young children regularly visit the pediatrician’s office for their child’s checkups. These visits offer an opportunity to learn about keeping a child healthy and to ensure he/she is up-to-date on vaccines.
However, when a child reaches the teen years, these annual checkups may fall off the radar. A recent survey, fielded by Harris Interactive, and commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, in collaboration with and with support from Pfizer Inc, found that while 85 percent of parents polled say an annual checkup is very important for those zero to five years, only 61 percent believe the same is true for teens.
Teens have a unique set of healthcare needs. Annual checkups can be an important opportunity for healthcare providers to identify key health issues and for adolescents to begin to independently make decisions regarding their health.
“Annual visits offer teens an opportunity to develop a one-on-one relationship with their physician and to begin to take responsibility for their own health,” said Susan J. Rehm, MD, NFID medical director. “It is particularly concerning for teens to be missing out on annual checkups because adolescence is a crucial period in life and it’s important for teens to establish healthy habits.”
Even though health experts recommend annual wellness visits for teens, about 60 percent of teens surveyed identified at least one reason for not getting an annual checkup. Of those, about one-third believe that they only need to see a doctor when sick. However, physicians polled report that teens and their parents are more likely to ask about a number of health topics, including weight, sexual health, vaccines, and stress-related conditions, during an annual checkup than at a sick visit.
For more information about the survey results, visit teenhealthsurvey.com. Parents can also find more information at myteenshealth.com, a new website with tips for parents navigating the teen health landscape.