The primary goal of any
consultation with an adolescent, regardless of the presenting complaint, is to
establish a relationship of trust. This calls for effective and effi cient
communication. However, achieving this is often difficult and challenging,
particularly when faced with a personality who is undergoing rapid
psychological and social change, and who does not have an adult’s perspective
of health issues and society. Young people may be seen by themselves, as well
as with their parents. Parents should not be excluded, but it is important to
emphasize that the adolescent is the centre of the consultation. Communication
of information should be in a manner appropriate for development.
Have a style of communication that
A positive regard and respect for
any differing values and practices should be exhibited. At all times there must
be reassurances about confidentiality.
open-ended questioning style.
medical jargon and inappropriate reassurance of normality.
fears and anxieties.
concepts should be avoided.
The HEADSS protocol is a psychosocial history toolkit
specifi-cally designed for adolescent health-related consultations.1