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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2002 February;54(1):25-40

language: English

Improving adolescent health outcomes

Klein J. D., Matos Auerbach M.


Adolescent morbidity and mortality are more often due to preventable causes and to risky behavioral choices than to ''natural'' causes, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer. The leading causes of death among adolescents in Western, industrialized nations are unintentional injuries, especially motor vehicle crashes, homicide, and suicide. The physical and cognitive development of adolescents also results in increased risky behavioral choices, and to high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, substance use and misuse, and inadequate nutrition. These lifestyle choices also have repercussions that last into adulthood. Brief counseling interventions by physicians or other clinicians have been shown to be effective in modifying health risk behaviors in adolescents. Adolescents also have indicated both a belief that physicians should counsel them on risk behaviors and a willingness to discuss risk behaviors if asked about them in a confidential manner. In this paper, we review the leading causes of adolescent morbidity and mortality in the United States and Western Europe, including injuries, violence, depression and suicide, substance use, sexual activity, and nutrition, physical activity, and eating disorders. In addition, we describe the effectiveness of physician counseling for reduction or prevention of specific risk behaviors and the importance of providing comprehensive, confidential care. Additionally, we describe the results of a recent study of implementation of Adolescent Preventive Service Guidelines in community and migrant health centers that increased risky behavior screening and counseling for adolescent patients seen for routine/well care visits.

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