When doctors explain privacy, teens raise more sensitive topics

Understanding confidentiality paves the way for more open discussions between adolescents and their doctors

Adolescents and young adults may be more willing to talk about sensitive topics with their doctors if they've had a talk about confidentiality, new findings suggest.

Only about one-third of adolescents talk about confidentiality with their healthcare provider, but those who report doing so are more likely to discuss potentially sensitive issues, according to the US study in Pediatrics.

"Sometimes we forget that adolescents don't understand the way the practice operates, the way the clinic operates, so we need to explain that to them," says study author Dr John Santelli of Columbia University in New York.

To investigate factors that could facilitate these conversations, Dr Santelli and colleagues surveyed more than 1500 13-26-year-olds about whether they had discussed any of 11 specific topics with their doctor at their most recent visit.

On average, young women discussed 3.7 of the topics,