Friday, April 04, 2008

Teen health and welfare a priority?

This out of Florida:
A recent survey that found some Florida teens believe drinking a cap of bleach will prevent HIV and a shot of Mountain Dew will stop pregnancy has prompted lawmakers to push for an overhaul of sex education in the state.
The survey showed that Florida teens also believe that smoking marijuana will prevent a person from getting pregnant.

This from an update of the 1996 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations about motor vehicle injuries:
There is evidence that screening for misuse of alcohol and targeted counseling of those persons who screen positive reduce alcohol consumption and alcohol-related (Motor Vehicle Occupant Injuries) MVOI. However, there is a critical gap in the evidence of the efficacy of behavioral counseling interventions directed to all patients in the primary care setting to reduce driving while under the influence of alcohol or riding with drivers who are alcohol-impaired.

What I take home from these 2 reports is that it seems that the lives of teens are not a high priority at least in some parts of our society right now. Each is just a reflection or a facet of that greater problem.

Teens, in many ways, aren’t getting the information they need to function (in this instance to make intelligent decisions about sex and the possible consequences about sex). That lack of real information, scientifically grounded information, has allowed them to (made them?) conflate drug use with a possible benefit of contraception. Unprotected sex is a high risk behavior that needs to be addressed proactively.

The second, a report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, points out that their isn’t much, if any, research to look at whether counseling by a doctor in their office can impact drinking and driving behavior (or the risky behavior of riding with someone intoxicated) among teens. This is basic research that ought to be high priority. How do we best prevent underage drinking and driving, the high risk behaviors surrounding underage drinking, and impact the morbidity and mortality that results from that behavior? If doctor office behavioral counseling proves to not be effective, are other venues more effective and if so, what are they?

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