dren, Youth, and Families, with funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies, formed the Committee on Adolescent Health Care Services and Models of Care for Treatment, Prevention, and Healthy Development in 2006. The 19-member committee was charged with studying adolescent health services in the United States and developing policy and research recommendations that would highlight critical health needs, promising models of health services, and components of care that could strengthen and improve health services for adolescents and contribute to healthy adolescent development. In conducting this study, the committee:

  • Considered settings, systems, and policies that promote high-quality health services for adolescents, as well as barriers to the provision of such services.

  • Reviewed strategies for helping adolescents—especially those at significant risk for health disorders in such areas as sexual behavior and reproductive health, substance use, mental and oral health, violence, and diet—enter and navigate the health system.

  • Sought to identify approaches that link disease prevention, health promotion, and behavioral health services and show significant promise for enhancing the provision of primary care for adolescents, including those who are more vulnerable because of selected population characteristics or other circumstances.

  • Considered several specific aspects of providing these services, including issues related to privacy and confidentiality, financing strategies, and provider training.


The concept of adolescence, which emerged only at the beginning of the twentieth century, is variable and evolving. Based on its review of various definitions of adolescence and of the literature on child and adolescent behavior and development, the committee focused this report—including the data, conclusions, and recommendations presented—on those aged 10–19.1 The report includes consideration of a number of specific groups of adolescents defined by selected population characteristics and other circumstances—such as those who are poor; members of a racial or ethnic minority; in the foster care system; homeless; in families that have recently


The committee recognized that there is disagreement among health care providers, researchers, and policy makers on the age bracket that demarcates the period of adolescence, but decided that on balance, focusing on ages 10–19 provides the best framework for the data analysis and evidence review in this report. Therefore, “adolescence” in this report denotes this age group, except when literature that uses a somewhat different age range is discussed.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement