Teenagers Like Electronic Media for Screenings and Follow-Up

Summary and Comment |
December 9, 2016

Teenagers Like Electronic Media for Screenings and Follow-Up

  1. Alain Joffe, MD, MPH, FAAP

The majority preferred completing risk behavior screenings electronically in the waiting room and receiving follow-up communication by e-mail.

  1. Alain Joffe, MD, MPH, FAAP

The proliferation of electronic medical records, tablets, and cell phones offers new opportunities for adolescents to complete health behavior screening questionnaires before clinical appointments. Investigators surveyed 115 adolescents (age range, 12–18 years; 59% female; 51% white) receiving primary care in university-based clinics about their preferences for completing a pre-visit behavioral risk screening module and for receiving follow-up information after appointments.

Participants reported the highest levels of comfort and honesty answering screening questions via electronic media (90% and 89%, respectively) versus with a provider (77% and 74%) or by paper (57% and 61%). Most preferred to complete screening in the waiting room using an electronic device compared with at home (5%), in the waiting room by paper (8%), or in the exam room with a provider (11%). E-mail was their preferred method for follow-up (61%), followed by text (17%) and phone call (15%); however, 32% did not want any post-visit contact.

Comment

I am not surprised that adolescents prefer electronic screening. They are comfortable with these devices, and facing a computer or tablet when answering sensitive questions might avoid the feeling of being judged by a professional. I suspect that teenagers would prefer to complete waiting room screening questions out of sight of their parents, but the study did not address that issue. Finally, I was surprised that these teenage respondents preferred e-mail over text messaging for follow-up; perhaps they view texting as something more personal that is reserved for friends and family.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Alain Joffe, MD, MPH, FAAP at time of publication Editorial boards Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews; JAMA Pediatrics; Neinstein’s Textbook of Adolescent and Young Adult Health Care (Associate Editor)

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