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Adolescent Preventive Care Opportunities Missed

Likely to see doctor yearly for non-preventive care visit but not have preventive care visits

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents tend to utilize doctor visits more for non-preventive care than for preventive care, but most see a doctor at least once a year, findings that suggest all visits could be opportunities for providing preventive care services, according to research published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

James D. Nordin, M.D., of the HealthPartners Research Foundation in Minneapolis, and colleagues studied claims data for 700,000 members of a Minnesota health plan to determine the rate of office visits by adolescents for preventive care and non-preventive care.

The researchers found that a third of those with at least four years of continuous enrollment did not engage in preventive care visits between 13 and 17 years of age, and 40 percent had just one such visit. Non-preventive care visits, however, ranged from one to 1.5 per year as adolescents grew older. In later adolescence, girls had more frequent preventive and non-preventive care visits than boys.

"Most adolescents come in infrequently for preventive care visits but more often for non-preventive care visits. We recommend using the same approach in adolescence for preventive care that is being used in adults: the no-missed-opportunities paradigm. All visits by adolescents should be viewed as an opportunity to provide preventive care services, and systems should be set up to make that possible, even in busy practices with short encounters with a clinician," the authors write.

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