Partnerships Between Parents and Health Care Professionals to Improve Adolescent Health
Research on partnerships between parents and health care professionals (HCPs) to improve adolescent health is limited. In this study, we have developed an empirically derived framework to guide research in this particular area. We conducted a qualitative study using focus groups and in-depth semi-structured interviews. A total of 85 participants (51 HCPs, 17 mothers of patients of ages 12-18 years, and 17 adolescents) were recruited from three free-standing adolescent health clinics and five school-based health centers across North Carolina. We independently explored the perceptions of HCPs and mothers regarding the roles of parents, HCPs, and parent-HCP partnerships in preventing and addressing adolescent health problems. We then elicited feedback of adolescents on mother and HCP perceptions. We identified common and informative themes during content analysis using ATLAS.ti, and triangulated perspectives of HCPs, mothers, and adolescents to develop a framework for building parent-HCP partnerships to improve adolescent health. A general framework emerged that conceptualizes both direct and indirect strategies for building parent-HCP partnerships. Direct strategies involve strengthening relationships and/or communication between parents and HCPs in both practice and community settings. Indirect strategies involve opportunities for HCPs to influence parent-adolescent relationships and/or communication within the context of adolescent visits. For example, HCPs can discuss the importance of parental involvement and monitoring with adolescents, encourage and facilitate parent-adolescent communication, and deliver tailored parental guidance while also respecting adolescents' desires for confidential health care when appropriate. Interventions that directly strengthen parent-HCP relationships and/or communication, and those that indirectly support parent-HCP partnerships within the context of adolescent health care, should be designed targeting health outcomes.