Developing a clear definition of adolescent health status is a critical step in delivering health services and forming health systems that can respond appropriately to the specific needs of adolescents. Moreover, the ability to understand and characterize health status within this definition is dependent on available data, particularly that related to adolescent behavior. Those concerned with the health of adolescents—health practitioners, policy makers, and families—would benefit from ready access to high-quality and more precise data that would aid in better understanding the consequences of health-influencing behaviors for the health status of adolescents.
Based on the overall conclusions presented above, the committee makes eleven recommendations, directed to both public and private entities, for investing in, strengthening, and improving health services for adolescents. These recommendations embody many of the behavioral and contextual characteristics that the committee explored in its evidence review and, if acted on in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, should improve the accessibility, acceptability, appropriateness, effectiveness, and equity of health services delivered to adolescents.
Recommendation 1: Federal and state agencies, private foundations, and private insurers should support and promote the development and use of a coordinated primary health care system that strives to improve health services for all adolescents.
Carrying out this recommendation would involve federal and state agencies, private foundations, and private insurers working with local primary care providers to coordinate services between primary and specialty care services. It would also entail providing opportunities for primary care services to interact with health programs for adolescents in many safety-net settings, such as schools, hospitals, and community health centers.
Recommendation 2: As part of an enhanced primary care system for adolescents, health care providers and health organizations should focus attention on the particular needs of specific groups of adolescents who may be especially vulnerable to risky behavior or poor health because of selected population characteristics or other circumstances.
Implementing this recommendation would involve focusing explicit attention on issues of access, acceptability, appropriateness, effectiveness,