Young adolescents' comfort with discussion about sexual problems with their physician

Bradley O. Boekeloo, Lisa Anne Schamus, Tina L. Cheng, Samuel J. Simmens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To identify factors associated with young adolescents' sense of comfort about discussing sexual problems with their physician. Design: Confidential, assisted self-report questionnaires on physician-adolescent communication developed by the investigators and completed by participants at visits for general health examinations. Setting: Five primary care pediatric practices at health maintenance organizations in Washington, DC. Patients: A consecutive sample of all adolescents 12 to 15 years old who received a general health examination. Of 412 eligible patients, 221 received parental consent and participated. Main Outcome Measure: Adolescents' sense of comfort about talking to their physician about a sexually transmitted disease or some other sexual problem. This outcome was chosen for a substudy of a larger longitudinal prevention trial. Results: Most adolescents valued their physicians' opinions about sex (89%) and said it was easy to talk to the physician during their visit (99%), but about half said they would be uncomfortable talking to the physician if they had a sexually transmitted disease or some other sexual problem (57%). Adolescents' sense of comfort was greater when physicians discussed sexual issues in the general health examination, adolescents perceived their personal risk of sexually transmitted disease to be high, adolescents had high self-esteem, and physicians were adolescents' usual physicians. Conclusions: This study emphasizes the need for physicians to discuss sexual risks with young adolescents and suggests ways physicians can help young adolescents feel more comfortable talking with them about sexual concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1146-1152
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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