Research Setting: The research for the study reported here was conducted in conjunction with the Biomedical and Health Sciences Internship for High School Students at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Pediatrics. The eight-week intensive summer program promotes interest in science, medicine, and health among young people by introducing students to the professional world of science, broadly defined. Interns are expected to assist in a specific research project that addresses a scientific question. They participate in a variety of lectures and are exposed to faculty members, medical students, and college graduates working as research assistants in a rich academic and clinical research setting. This study was conducted within Kaiser Permanente (KP) of Northern California as part of a larger study aimed at increasing Chlamydia screening among sexually active adolescents. It was approved by Committee on Human Research, the institutional review board (IRB) for the University of California, San Francisco and the IRB for KP Northern California.
Objective: There were two primary objectives of this study: first, we sought to identify where teenagers obtain information about sexual health; second, we examined whether aspects of a clinician's communication style with a teen during a health care visit were associated with the teen choosing that clinician as a primary source of sexual health information (as compared with parents, peers, teachers, the news media, and other sources).
Results: Teens who perceived that their clinician communicated with respect and explained information in ways that they could understand were more likely to cite their clinician as a source of sexual health information. Having time alone (confidentiality) with a physician was also associated with teens' selection of a clinician as a primary information source. Whether the clinician asked about sex during the health care visit was significantly associated with males selecting the clinician as a primary source of sexual health information. An important finding, at least for males, because teens do not always bring up the topic.