Adolescent Health Services: Missing Opportunities

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National Research Council/Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM)

Adolescents receive health services from a fragmented system that's poorly designed to meet their needs, according to a new report from two renowned medical research organizations. The researchers found that - despite the relatively good health of most U.S. teens - risky behaviors, unhealthy habits and chronic physical and mental conditions threaten the future well-being of many youth. Additionally, uninsured or underinsured teens who have little or no access to routine primary care end up relying on emergency rooms and community clinics for commonplace, but exacerbated, conditions. Few of these teens have access to specialty services such as substance abuse, mental health, reproductive and oral health treatment.

The authors recommend the collaborative development of a healthcare system that provides opportunities for youth routinely to receive primary care services in safety-net settings such as hospitals and community health centers. They also recommend medical providers gain the consent of youth before releasing their health information to others, including parents.

The study is a project of the NRC/IOM Board on Children, Youth, and Families, and was supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies. (202) 334-1935. Available free online at A four-page summary is available at