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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan Study Shows Helicopter Parenting at the Doctor’s Office May Impact Teen Health

Parents of teens may struggle letting go of the reins when it comes to their children’s health checkups, a new national poll suggests.

Just 34 percent of parents say their teen discussed health concerns privately with a doctor without them in the room, and less than 10 percent say their teens can complete their health history form independently. The poll includes a nationally-representative group of parents of teens ages 13-18.

[Photo: Dr. Matthew Davis]

Dr. Matthew Davis, University of Michigan SPH professor of health management and policy, is director of the National Poll on Children’s Health. He also holds U-M appointments as professor of pediatrics, internal medicine, and public policy at U-M Medical School and the Ford School of Public Policy.

Nearly 40 percent of parents say that they alone – not their teen – would ask questions about health issues. Only 15 percent of parents say their teen would independently share physical or emotional problems with the doctor.

“The majority of parents are managing teens’ health care visits, and their teens may be missing out on valuable opportunities to learn how to take ownership of their own health,” says Ms. Sarah J. Clark, associate director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

“Having teens take the lead in responsibilities like filling out their own paperwork, describing their health problems, and asking questions during adolescence helps them gain experience and confidence in managing their health. Speaking with the doctor privately is important, not only to give teens a chance to disclose confidential information, but also to provide the opportunity for them to be an active participant in their own health care, without a parent taking over.”

For information about ways to help your child become independent at health visits and for more information about the report, click here.