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Adolescence: Preparing for Lifelong Health and Wellness

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 1pm EST.

Group of students in classroom

Adolescence is a critical stage of development during which physical, intellectual, emotional, and psychological changes occur.  While adolescence is a relatively healthy period of life, adolescents begin to make lifestyle choices and establish behaviors that affect both their current and future health.  During this transition from childhood to adulthood, serious health and safety issues such as motor vehicle crashes, violence, substance use, and risky sexual behaviors can adversely affect adolescents and young adults.  For instance, in 2013, over 1 in 5 reported current tobacco use, and among those sexually active, almost 2 out of 3 reported not using condoms regularly.

Parents have an important role in helping their adolescents stay healthy, but there are other influences on the choices adolescents make.  Of the 42 million U.S. adolescents, age 10-19 years, 91% are enrolled in school, making schools and academic institutions an ideal place to foster lifelong healthy behaviors.  Other community level interventions can also make the healthy choice the easy choice.  Interventions that improve adolescent health care delivery are needed.  Healthcare systems should continue to improve access to and use of clinical preventive services and provide opportunities for young patients to learn to manage their own health.

In this session of Grand Rounds, we explore adolescent health, specifically how families, community organizations, schools, and government agencies can work together to encourage adolescents to avoid risk and adopt health-promoting behaviors.


Dr. Phoebe Thorpe and Dr. Stephanie Zaza discuss the importance of making adolescent health a priority. Adolescents are in a very unique developmental stage and there are many levels of intervention that can help nurture that development.

Parents should focus on:

  • Strengthening protective factors and encouraging healthy habits,
  • Reducing injury, substance abuse and sexual risk behaviors and
  • Allowing adolescents to be more responsible for their own health.

Schools can:

  • Continue to provide health education and physical education and
  • Strengthen connectedness with students.

Clinicians must:

  • Ensure that their facilities are youth friendly,
  • Continue to offer anticipatory guidance and
  • Help to teach young people how to seek health information and care.

Presented By:

Stephanie Zaza, MD, MPH
Captain, U.S. Public Health Service 
Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, CDC
“Adolescents in the United States”

Patricia J. Dittus, PhD
Lead Behavioral Scientist, Social and Behavioral Research and Evaluation Branch
Division of STD Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, CDC
“Prevention for a Moving Target”

Shannon L. Michael, PhD, MPH
Health Scientist, School Health Branch
Division of Population Health
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC
“Schools as a Venue for Promoting Health and Wellness”

Claire D. Brindis, DrPH
Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy
Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
Co-Project Director, Adolescent and Young Adult Health National Resource Center
University of California, San Francisco
“Health Care for Adolescents: How to Improve It”

Facilitated By:

John Iskander, MD, MPH, Scientific Director , Public Health Grand Rounds
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH, Deputy Scientific Director, Public Health Grand Rounds
Susan Laird, MSN, RN, Communications Director , Public Health Grand Rounds

  • Page last reviewed: August 6, 2015
  • Page last updated: August 6, 2015
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