City hospitals are trying to find ways to make going to the doctor a more comfortable experience for teens. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
It's not easy being a teen.
"We have a lot of kids who come in with depression, severe anxiety, real problems just adjusting to a new country, adjusting to school," says Dr. Janet Siegel, Elmhurst Hospital Adolescent Services Director.
And the last thing many teens want to do is talk to an adult about their problems.
Two years ago the city-run Health and Hospitals Corporation launched its teen health improvement program to help doctors communicate better with adolescent patients in an effort to be more proactive in improving the health of city teens.
"Teenagers are still getting HIV. We know that 90 percent of pregnancies in teenagers are unwanted. So those are areas where really, the right healthcare and the right decisions that they’re making day to day will make the difference," says David Stevens, HHC Healthcare Improvement Office Senior Director.
Trained patient-actors, posing as teens, come to doctors with a range of issues, from emerging sexuality, to pregnancy.
Deadra Caleb is acting as a teen in need of emergency contraception.
The patient-actors are trained to judge how comfortable a doctor makes them feel.
"Did the doctor ask open ended questions and let the patient talk without interruption, did the doctor use language that the patient felt comfortable, not using jargon, not using words to make them sound cool," says Stevens.
Caleb says she's encountered doctors who come off judgmental and preachy.
"If I hear it that way, I’m not going to want to come back to that provider, and it would make me take a long time to go back to a doctor," says Deadra Caleb, a patient-actor.
In the end, Caleb gave Dr. Efniki Kyvelos high marks, but suggested she could explain confidentiality even better.
"The feedback is helpful," says Efniki Kyvelos, an Elmhurst Hospital physician. "I really do think that I am going to change how I talk about confidentiality with my patients and my choice in words."
HHC plans to expand the program, having doctors go through it annually because many, like Kyvelos, find the feedback valuable.
"This is the first time that many of them have gotten feedback from somebody in the patient’s chair, and it’s very powerful, and they’re learning things that they have done for years, and they’re realizing maybe there are some better ways to do it," says Stevens.
For more information visit ny1.com/health.
If teens and their parents are interested in meeting with an HHC doctor they can make future or same day appointments through 311.
For more information, go to www.nyc.gov.