Physical health problems occurring during adolescence can often complicate adolescent development. Illness, injury, medical treatments, hospitalization, and surgery can all intensify concerns about physical appearance, interfere with efforts to gain independence, and disrupt changing relationships with parents and friends. Also, adolescent developmental issues may complicate a teenager's ability to cope with illness and response to treatment.
Chronic illness or disability occurs in an estimated 10 percent of individuals under the age of 17. While some of these youth have to cope with additional physical and mental disabilities as a result of their primary illness, all of them have to deal with the psychological consequences of their condition.
While a large part of adolescent medicine involves addressing the medical and treatment needs of the adolescent's illness, condition, or injury, a significant component of adolescent medicine also anticipates and assesses developmental complications associated with the healthcare needs of the specific medical problem. Physicians and other healthcare providers in adolescent medicine assist adolescents and their families in developing strategies to deal with developmental issues and the complications and conflicts that may erupt between illness, treatment, and developmental needs.