Researchers developed and tested a school-based program to encourage and improve preventive health discussions between ninth-grade students and their doctors and to increase parents’ involvement in their children’s health. About 235 ninth-grade students, most of whom were African American or Hispanic, participated in small group sessions for learning the importance of preventive health care. The sessions included role play for discussions with doctors about sensitive health issues. Follow-up surveys showed participants were more likely than nonparticipants to feel comfortable talking to doctors about sex, emotional concerns, and alcohol and drug use.
The researchers also conducted surveys of more than 150 parents of the ninth-graders and found the parents wanted information about adolescent health and wanted doctors to talk with teens about health-risk prevention. The parents’ concerns were shared with managed care providers at an annual conference, and health information was distributed to the parents who were surveyed as well as the school’s parent association. The school’s health committee—comprising students, parents, and teachers—created a health resource room for the parents and organized schoolwide health-promotion activities. Evaluation is under way; preliminary results show that the programs helped increase the school’s capacity to provide health information and direct teens to appropriate community resources.