(HealthDay News) – About one-third of adolescents have annual health maintenance visits without any mention of sexuality, according to a study published online Dec. 30 in JAMA Pediatrics.
To assess the occurrence and characteristics of physician-adolescent discussions about sexuality, Stewart C. Alexander, PhD, from the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, and colleagues conducted a observational study of audio-recorded conversations between 253 adolescents (mean age, 14.3 years) and 49 physicians (82% pediatricians) at 11 academic and community-based clinics.
The researchers found that 65% of visits included some sexual content, with an average time of sexuality talk of 36 seconds. After adjustment for clustering of patients within physicians, adolescent, physician, and visit characteristics that were associated with more sexuality talk included female patients (odds ratio [OR], 2.58); older patients (OR, 1.37); conversations with explicit confidentiality discussions (OR, 4.33); African-American adolescents (OR, 1.58); and longer visits (OR, 1.07). Less sexuality talk was noted with Asian physicians (OR, 0.13). The same associations between adolescent, physician, and visit characteristics were significantly linked to more adolescent participation.
“The findings suggest that physicians are missing opportunities to educate and counsel adolescent patients on healthy sexual behaviors and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy,” the authors write.