Millions of US Teens May Be Missing Out on Annual Checkups, and the
Opportunity to be Screened for Potential Health Risks
BETHESDA, Md., April 16, 2013
BETHESDA, Md., April 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Approximately one-third of teens
may be missing annual checkups according to data from the US Department of
Health and Human Services^1 and the US Census.^2 Teens often encounter social,
emotional, and physical issues that may include eating disorders and obesity,
substance abuse, and sexually transmitted infections.^3While experts agree
that teens should get annual medical checkups to be screened for health risks
and discuss important health-related matters,^4,3 perceptions exist that may
contribute to millions of teens missing out on yearly visits.^1,2 To better
understand perceptions about teen health, the National Foundation for
Infectious Diseases (NFID), in collaboration with, and with support from
Pfizer Inc, conducted a national survey, fielded by Harris Interactive, of
more than 2,000 parents of teens, teens, and healthcare professionals.
To view the multimedia content, please click: teenhealthsurvey.com
A key finding was that about one in four parents surveyed said that teens'
lifestyle choices today won't affect their health in the future^5, and one in
five teens surveyed agreed.^6 The disconnect among parents and teens between
today's choices and future impacts on health contrasts with medical thinking
that health behaviors in the teen years can have a long-term impact on health
in adulthood.^7 For additional information and additional survey results,
please visit myteenshealth.com.
"NFID has long been an advocate of preventive health. With the drop in annual
checkups during the teen years, we wanted to take a look at the attitudes and
behaviors of the people closest to teen health to see if we can better
understand the reason for the decline," said Susan J. Rehm, MD, NFID medical
director. "There's a valley in our healthcare continuum, and two out of three
teens surveyed said they have at least one reason for not getting an annual
checkup. If we understand why, we may be better equipped to address those
The survey revealed a number of misperceptions and potential missed
oAbout 60 percent of teens surveyed identified at least one reason for not
getting an annual checkup; of those, about one-third believe that they
only need to see a doctor when sick.^6
oWhen teens are joined by a parent in the exam room, it can restrict the
conversation, according to 84 percent of physicians surveyed.^8
oAbout half of physicians surveyed assumed teens' friends were a most
trusted source for health information,^8 teens surveyed (43 percent)
actually listed healthcare providers as their most trusted source for
Checkups are not just for babies
Parents of infants and young children are accustomed to regularly visiting a
pediatrician for their child's checkups. But when children reach the teen
years, these annual checkups may fall off the radar. While 85 percent of
parents polled say an annual checkup is very important for those zero to five
years,^5 there was a 24 percent drop in the percentage who believe the same is
true for teens (61 percent).^5
Professional societies, including the Society for Adolescent Health and
Medicine (SAHM) and the American Medical Association (AMA), recommend annual
checkups for teens.^4,3 In addition, the Affordable Care Act allows teens and
young adults to remain under their families' health coverage up to age 26,
which can help ensure that they have access to preventive health care,
Annual checkups can be an important opportunity for positive health
discussions.^3 Physicians polled report that teens and their parents are more
likely to ask about a number of health topics, including weight, sexual
health, vaccines, and stress-related conditions, during an annual checkup than
at a sick visit.^8
"Teens are smart, but they're just like the rest of us: overscheduled and
overwhelmed. It's normal to have an 'it won't happen to me' attitude," said
Aria Finger, chief operating officer of DoSomething.org, a large social change
nonprofit in the United States. "It's about changing the consciousness of
teens and those who care for them. Everyone wants what's best. Making the
annual checkup part of the norm during teen years sets young people up to take
charge and get ahead of the curve about their own health."
Teens worry about health
Nearly all parents, teens, and physicians surveyed (94,^5 96,^6 and 97
percent,^8 respectively) agree that teens should have a say in decisions about
their own health. And the survey shows being healthy can be top of mind for
many; two out of three teens surveyed say they worry a lot or a great deal
about staying healthy.^6 However, only 28 percent of parents reported that
they believe their teens worry a lot or a great deal about their health.^5
While teens may trust doctors, they don't necessarily like talking with them.
Almost 40 percent of teens surveyed say they don't like talking with doctors
or other health care providers.^6Fifty percent of teens surveyed turn to the
Internet for health information.^6 Parents surveyed report that when they are
in the room, only half of the conversation is directed solely toward the
teen.^5 Furthermore, as noted, having a parent in the teen's exam room during
an annual checkup can restrict the conversation, according to 84 percent of
"The information and communication dynamic among teens, parents, and doctors
is an important one," said Leslie Walker, MD, immediate past-president of SAHM
and division chief of adolescent medicine and professor of pediatrics at
University of Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Children's Hospital.
"It's appropriate for teens to be able to talk to their doctor alone.
Establishing this one-on-one relationship between patient and physician
encourages independence and responsibility for one's own health."
It takes a village
Teens may also turn to other adults in their lives. One in four teens surveyed
said they may turn to school-based professionals (teachers, guidance
counselors and school nurses) for health information.^6
"Teens are social beings," said Finger. "The adults and peers in their lives
model behaviors and influence attitudes about health and well being. Engaging
these audiences or equipping them to positively influence teens can go a long
About the survey
Harris conducted an online survey of504 teens aged 13-17, 500 parents of
teens aged 13-17, and 1,325 healthcare professionals including pediatricians
and primary care physicians (n=510) and nurse practitioners, physician
assistants, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses (n=815) in the
United States. All respondents were sampled from the online panels maintained
by Harris Interactive Inc. and its partners, invited by e-mail to be screened,
and if qualified, participate in an online self-administered survey.Data was
collected between Dec. 27, 2012 and Jan. 23, 2013. Data for all three surveys
(teens survey, parents survey, and healthcare professional survey) were
About this initiative
In addition to the survey, NFID, in collaboration with and with support from
Pfizer Inc, recently convened a roundtable on adolescent health, inviting key
organizations to share their perspectives about barriers to optimal adolescent
The roundtable and survey outcomes also contributed to the development of a
Pfizer-sponsored Web site for parents: Parents Active in Teens Health, which
provides tips for parents navigating the teen health landscape. Visit
myteenshealth.com for more information.
About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Based in Bethesda, MD, NFID is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c)(3)
organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to educating the public and
healthcare professionals about the causes, treatment, and prevention of
infectious diseases. For additional information, visit nfid.org.
Pfizer and Healthy Aging
Pfizer works to encourage action for healthy aging through multiple programs.
To learn more, please visitwww.getold.com.
About Pfizer Inc: Working together for a healthier world
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to
people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set
the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and
manufacture of health care products. Our global portfolio includes medicines
and vaccines as well as many of the world's best-known consumer health care
products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging
markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge
the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as
one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we
collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to
support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the
world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for
all who rely on us. To learn more, please visit us atwww.pfizer.com.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms,
leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant
insight into actionable foresight. Known widely forthe Harris Poll®and for
pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary
solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and
reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and
communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of
industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy,
telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant,
and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of
multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing
our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries
and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris
specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our
clients—stay ahead of what's next. For additional information, visit
^1 US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2020: Adolescent
Updated March 28, 2013. Accessed April 5, 2013.
^2 U.S Census Bureau. Population Estimates.
November 2012. Accessed on March 1, 2013.
^3 American Medical Association. Guidelines for Adolescent Preventive
Accessed April 5, 2013.
^4 SAHM. Clinical Preventive Services for Adolescents. J Adolesc
^5 Harris Interactive. "Adolescent Wellness Survey." Parent Data Tables.
February 7, 2013.
^6 Harris Interactive. "Adolescent Wellness Survey." Teen Data Tables.
February 7, 2013.
^7 Coker T, Sareen H, Chung P, et al. Improving Access to and Utilization of
Adolescent Preventive Health Care: The Perspective of Adolescents and Parents.
J Adolesc Health. 2010;47:133-142.
^8 Harris Interactive. "Adolescent Wellness Survey." HCP Data Tables February
^9 US Department of Health and Human Services. Young Adults and the Affordable
Care Act. http://www.healthcare.gov/law/information-for-you/young-adults.html.
Updated April 2013. Accessed April 5, 2013.
Feinstein Kean Healthcare
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