The Future

The continuing and increasing awareness of adolescent health needs to be encouraged and fostered in all disciplines. Publication in the general medical literature needs to be encouraged. In the 12 editions of "Archives of Disease in Childhood" only 4% and 8% of original and review articles, respectively, were adolescent health-related (36)

There is great scope for multidisciplinary involvement in creating appropriate adolescent health services that young people will want and be able to access easily. Involvement of young people in service development and training may be a key aspect to success. Involvement as case studies or as simulated patients using adolescent actors has been reported as successful (40,41). Collaboration of medical schools and postgraduate programs with secondary schools with drama departments may be fruitful in the teaching of adolescent medicine with special emphasis on communication skills with teenagers. The reliability and validity of an observation guide that incorporates adolescent psychosocial data collection with the physician's communication skills have recently been assessed using trained adolescent raters (42). Videos of simulated consultations have been developed for training purposes. The DIPEx charity has produced a unique, award winning website aimed at young people, their carers, family and friends, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. Approximately 100 main illnesses and conditions are covered, including teenage health and childhood-onset chronic conditions (www.youthhealthtalk.org). Interviews with volunteers or actors are available to watch online and are potentially useful teaching aids for issues such as communication and confidentiality (43).

There is also potential for interdisciplinary education and training programs. Many issues faced by adolescents are generic and have the potential to occur in many disciplines. Surveys of different professionals show there are few differences between perceived importance, knowledge and confidence in most of the key areas of adolescent health (11-16,18). In addition, training disciplines together is potentially more cost-effective than each profession running its own program and will foster future collaboration either in the clinical or research arenas.

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