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Report Finds Fault With U.S. Health Services for Teens
Date:12/9/2008

Among recommendations: More coordinated care, better training for providers,,

TUESDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Better coordination and care, along with improved training for health care providers, are among the reforms needed to improve the fragmented and poorly designed health services currently available for American teens.

That recommendation is contained in a report, Adolescent Health Services: Missing Opportunities, released Dec. 9 by the National Research Council and the U.S. Institute of Medicine.

Most U.S. teens are healthy, but a number engage in risky behavior, develop unhealthy habits and have physical and mental conditions that threaten their immediate and future health, said the report. Health care providers need better training to deal with the specific needs of patients ages 10 to 19, the report added.

"Adolescents have unique health care needs, and our health system should approach their care the same way it does children or adults," report committee chairman Robert S. Lawrence, professor of environmental health sciences and health policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a National Research Council news release.

"As policymakers discuss how to restructure the way health care is delivered in the U.S., the distinct problems faced by adolescents -- such as risky behavior -- deserve particular attention. And because adolescence is a critical period for developing habits that build a strong foundation for health throughout one's entire life, services need to focus on promoting healthy behaviors, preventing disease, and managing health conditions," Lawrence said.

He and his colleagues said that some teens, particularly those who are uninsured or underinsured, have little or no access to mainstream primary care services. Instead, they rely largely on "safety-net" care provided by hospitals, community centers and school-based health centers.


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