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Ukrainian doctors learn how to communicate more effectively with adolescents

1 June 2018
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In June 2018, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, with the support of the Ukrainian Foundation for Public Health (UFPH), Health Right International, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), launches a training program aimed at improving adolescent health interventions at primary care level. First, the two-month trainings will be organized in Lviv and Poltava. About 300 family doctors and pediatricians will learn to communicate more effectively with adolescents and to use special screening questionnaires for adolescents developed based on the UK and the US successful experiences. The key objective of these trainings is to help primary care physicians learn how to identify potential health risks and deliver quality care in a timely, professional manner.

 

About 40% of Ukrainian adolescents aged 15-17 have at least one chronic health condition. The problem is that young people are reluctant to seek medical help. At the same time, most physicians focus on the existing concerns and rarely pay attention to potential health risks, which may cause serious complications at the age of 30 or 40 years, if left untreated.

Adolescent health interventions require a special approach, since these people are no longer children, but not yet adults. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine, with the valuable support provided by its partners, has developed a patient health questionnaire for adolescents and a special training program for Ukrainian doctors. During the two-month trainings, the training participants will learn many useful techniques for effective communication with adolescents and some non-typical techniques for identification of potential health risks in patients of this age group. As a result, primary care physicians should monitor and evaluate adolescent mental, reproductive and sexual health, identify potential risks related to sexually transmitted disease, including HIV, prevent substance abuse and other bad habits or addictions, like smoking. Doctors should also pay attention to the adolescent patient’s eating habits, as well as provide advice on healthy diet and lifestyle.

The patient health questionnaire for adolescents has been developed to help primary care physicians monitor patients' health and keep track of any changes. At the same time, the key objective of this transformation is to develop a new quality of the relationship between doctors and adolescent patients built on the confidentiality of patient’s data. Therefore, positive and preventive health conversations should form the basis for adolescent primary care improvement. Doctors should learn how to encourage adolescent patients to be honest about their health and other conditions, as well as how to correctly identify and evaluate potential health risks, start treatment in a timely manner or refer an adolescent patient to specialists, when specialized care is recommended.

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