Do you view teen health in the same way that your teen patients and their parents do? Perhaps not!

A Harris Poll was conducted last fall on behalf of the Unity Consortium, a non-profit 501(c)(3) focused on adolescent and young adult health. The goal was to survey teens, parents and healthcare providers to better understand similarities and differences among them related to their attitudes and beliefs about teen health. Survey respondents included a national sampling composed of 506 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age, 515 parents of teens in the same age range, 405 physicians who see teens, and 105 pharmacists.

Results indicated some differences among the groups surveyed:

  • While 90 percent of teens and 84 percent of parents believed teens were “genuinely interested in living a healthy lifestyle,” only 59 percent of surveyed physicians and 64 percent of surveyed pharmacists agreed.
  • While teens (94 percent) and healthcare providers (98 percent) agreed that maintaining health is the responsibility of the teen, they disagreed about the interest of teens in actually doing so. Only about half of doctors (52 percent) felt teens were interested in this responsibility while 89 percent of teens indicated such interest.
  • Only 32 percent of physicians and 45 percent of pharmacists felt teens were comfortable talking to their parents about their health, but when asked, 89 percent of teens indicated that they are comfortable talking to their parents or guardians about their health.
  • Almost all physicians (97 percent) felt it is important for teens to have time alone with the healthcare provider to discuss issues, but only about two-thirds (67 percent) of teens agreed. Of surveyed parents, 84 percent felt their teens should have an opportunity to speak alone with the healthcare provider.

A series of questions related to vaccines:

  • Almost all physicians (98 percent) indicated that teens and their parents need to better understand the benefits of vaccination, and responses to questions about vaccines from the teens and parents seemed to corroborate this:
    • More than half of teens and their parents (57 percent each group) indicated that they have some vaccine safety concerns.
    • Almost half of both groups (47 percent teens and 45 percent parents) indicated that something they read on social media has made them concerned about the safety of vaccines.
    • About one-third of both groups (34 percent of teens and 23 percent of parents) indicated that they did not know how vaccines helped them.
  • Teens and their parents were not certain about which vaccines teens had received:
    • Only about half of parents could confirm that their teen had received HPV, Men ACWY, and Men B vaccines (46, 49 and 50 percent, respectively).
    • Only about one-third of teens could confirm receipt of these same vaccines (34 percent HPV and 28 percent for both Men ACWY and Men B).
    • Most teens and their parents agreed that vaccinations are important for teens, will keep them healthy in the future, and protect them against specific diseases (responses varied from 88 to 96 percent).

Find out more about the survey findings:

Unity Consortium also offers resources for families and healthcare providers:

For teens and their parents:

  • Thrive is a free mobile app about teen health which was co-developed with the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) and supported by Pfizer, Inc.
  • Protect & Connect with Your Teen is a print resource for parents.

For providers:

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.