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Doctors failing to talk about sex with teens during routine checkups

Washington, Jan. 12 : Researchers have found that doctors are missing opportunity to share information about sex with their teenage patients by failing to raise the subject during their checkups


The study found that less than 66 per cent of doctors and teenage patients converse about sex, sexuality or dating during annual visits, and the talks that occur last less than a minute on average.

Lead author Stewart Alexander, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Duke, said that it's hard for physicians to treat adolescents and help them make healthy choices about sex if they don't have these conversations, asserting that for teens who are trying to understand sex and sexuality, not talking about sex could have huge implications.

During annual visits, doctors can promote a range of healthy behaviors to teenage patients by talking about issues such as smoking, drinking and wearing seatbelts.

Duke researchers gathered audio recordings of annual visits, including camp and sports physicals, for 253 adolescents. The teens, ages 12 to 17, visited pediatricians and family medicine physicians at 11 clinics in North Carolina.

The researchers listened to the recordings for any mention of sexual activity, sexuality or dating. They found that physicians brought up sex in 65 percent of visits, with conversations lasting an average of 36 seconds.

The other 35 percent of visits included no mention of sex. None of the adolescents initiated discussions on sex, reinforcing the need for physicians to start the conversation.

The study has been published in JAMA Pediatrics.

--ANI (Posted on 12-01-2014)

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