All health-care providers who treat adolescents should be familiar with the three developmental stages of adolescence and know how to tailor treatment for each phase. Keep in mind that an adolescent’s physical, intellectual, and social maturity may not be synchronized at all stages.
Stages of Adolescence
Sexual maturation begins
Concrete thinking but inconsistent grasp of consequences
Early abstract thought
Physical changes of puberty stabilize
Sense of identity grows
Ability to think reflectively improves
Emphasis on peer relationships and risk-taking
Adult physical appearance
Set sense of identity
Transition to leaving family
Making the transition
In general, parents and physicians are the primary medical decision makers for youth during early adolescence. Youth should become increasingly involved in decisions during middle and late adolescence so they are prepared to transition to adult-centered health care.