One snowy day while working on my project, I was “researching” by leisurely reading the paper. (Okay, so it wasn’t research – we all need a minute to relax, right?) I came across a Chicago Tribune article by Karen Kaplan called “Doctors, teens should talk more about sex, study says” (December 30, 2013).

I thought to myself…..YESSSS! But then I thought…well, duh.

To summarize the article, a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics* addressing the questions: Do doctors talk to adolescents about sex? If so, how much time do they spend talking about sex? Do the teens engage in the conversation? Are there certain personality types/genders/ethnicities of the physician or patient that may or may not encourage conversation? Apparently no one has really looked into this before. Obviously, I think this is a very, very cool study.

What did they find?

-About 1/3 of the kids who went in for a check-up had no conversation about sexual health with their doctor.

-For the remaining 2/3’s who did have a discussion with the doc, the average time discussing sexual health was about 36 seconds.

-Doctors were more likely to speak to older adolescents about sex than younger patients.

Well, let me offer a personal opinion: I’m not sure I consider (an average of) 36 seconds long enough to really get into the topic sexual health. But that’s just me. So essentially, discussion about sexual health is pretty much nonexistent in many doctor offices.

And that’s a problem. Talking about sexual health with one’s physician or other healthcare provider is imperative, whether an adult or adolescent. This is the opportunity to find out how to protect yourself against unintended pregnancy, STI’s, HIV, birth control methods, vaccinations….you name it. After all, medically-accurate, scientifically-based information IS found in medical clinics.

The study ends with the question – how can professionals change this?? Needless to say, more studies will be done to answer this question. I know I have MY opinion, however, I would like to hear what YOU have to say.

What do you think would encourage healthcare providers to spend more time talking with our adolescents about sexual health?
(You can just leave a reply below)

I want to (K)NOW what YOU think.

My next blog entry will be an interview with a young woman about her experience in a doctor’s office. Please visit again and read what she has to say.

*JAMA Pediatr. Published online December 30, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4338