News Release

Doctors help parents talk with their teens about sex, alcohol

Peer-Reviewed Publication

JAMA Network

Bottom Line: Parents and teens find it difficult to talk about sex and alcohol, and this study finds that doctors can help. This randomized clinical trial evaluated whether interventions targeted at parents in primary care pediatric settings might improve communications between parents and their teens about sexual health and alcohol use. The interventions were selected because in previous research outside of clinic settings they have been shown to encourage teens to wait until they're older to have sex, use protection if they do have sex, and reduce alcohol use. The study included 118 parent-adolescent pairs, with 38 pairs in a sexual health intervention, 40 pairs in an alcohol prevention intervention, and 40 pairs in a control group for comparison who received usual care. Parents in the interventions received coaching on key messages regarding sexual health and alcohol and were encouraged to engage in parent-adolescent communication about it within two weeks, at which time there was a follow-up call to parents from health coaches. Participants were surveyed four months later and study authors report an increased frequency of parent-teen communications about sexual health and alcohol use in the intervention groups compared to the control group. Results suggest that doctors have an opportunity to help parents and teens communicate about sex and alcohol in ways that will help young people make healthier choices about sexual behaviors and alcohol use. Limitations of the study include that it was conducted at a single site and parent-teen communications were self-reported.

Authors: Carol A. Ford, M.D., Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and coauthors


Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.


Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Carol A. Ford, M.D., email Joey McCool Ryan at"> The full study is linked to this news release.

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About JAMA Network Open: JAMA Network Open is the new online-only open access general medical journal from the JAMA Network. Every Wednesday and Friday, the journal publishes peer-reviewed clinical research and commentary in more than 40 medical and health subject areas. Every article is free online from the day of publication.

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