Healthcare providers have a unique responsiblity when educating their young patients. Sadly, our healthcare system does not allow for lengthy conversations. Many physicians lament this fact.
This has a tremendous impact on preventative medicine when it comes to reproductive health. Conversations about sexuality require a certain nuance for some patients. Quickly jumping in with deeply personal question such as, “Are you sexually active?” “What is your sexual orientation?” can be off-putting to many inviduals, especially kids. In other words, these conversations require precious office-visit time.
So, what can we do about that?
The HPV vaccine is critical for preventing many types of cancers, especially cervial, anal, oral, and penile. Typically, the ideal time to vaccinate young people is about age 11. However, talking about sexuality when a child is so young can be uncomfortable. Healthcare providers may experience pushback from the parents who believe their child is too young to even think about them becoming sexually active. The discussion requires significant one-on-one time that the healthcare provider simply does not always have. How can we circumvent that?
A recent study illustrated that there is one impactful educational method when educating parents about the HPV vaccine.
Video, of course. In this study, parents and adolesents were shown a short, informative video about the HPV vaccine. After viewing the video, and after conversing with their healthcare provider, the vaccination rates shot up 30%.
In this day of immediate information, and so much “fake news”, perhaps video education is our next best option. Wouldn’t it make sense to have factual scripts that healthcare providers across the country can use to help them produce their own video? Patients could view the video a week before their appointment. Alternatively, perhaps a video monitor in the health office can run a video loop to info-tain waiting parents. These videos will help open conversation between the patient/parent/provider and also save time. Questions can then be focused on the individual’s specific concerns.
Open the conversations
Video education can be useful with many topids: STIs, birth control, healthy relationships – you name it. Videos are non-threatening, unbiased, and informative. Healthcare providers can then have important personal conversations that address individual needs.
In the meantime…
In the meantime, to save time when visiting the healthcare provider, be sure to think through some questions ahead of time. Write them down and bring them into the exam room. Write the answers down. Ask for medically-accurate online resources to further investigate your issues. Other tips to help you and your adolescent navigate the medical world can be found in this article.
We must be our own best healthcare advocate, however we must be informed about “junk” science and utilize medically-accurate resources.