Priorities in the communication needs of adolescents with psychosocial problems and their parents

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Abstract

Background

In patient-centred care, professionals should recognize their patient's needs and adapt their communication accordingly. Studies into patients' communication needs suggest priorities vary depending on sociodemographic characteristics, and type and severity of the complaints. However, evidence lacks on priorities in the communication needs of adolescents in psychosocial care and their parents.

Objective

To assess adolescents' and parents' importance ratings concerning affective communication, information provision, shared decision-making, interprofessional communication and the degree to which client and care characteristics determine these.

Methods

Adolescents aged 12–18 (n = 403) and one of their parents (n = 403) rated the importance of communication before the psychosocial care process started. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was applied to determine which characteristics were associated with the 25% lowest importance ratings for communication aspects.

Results

Adolescents and parents considered affective communication to be the most important, with shared decision-making the least important. For adolescents, lower importance ratings were associated with dissatisfaction with prior care (OR 1.8), negative expectations (ORs 1.9–2.4), emotional problems (ORs 0.2–0.5) and low prosocial behaviour skills (ORs 2.0). For parents, low education (ORs 1.7–1.8), negative expectations (OR 0.4), adolescent's hyperactivity/inattention (ORs 0.4–0.5) and low prosocial behaviour skills (ORs 1.8–2.6) determined lower importance ratings.

Conclusions

Affective communication has highest priority for adolescents and their parents. Client and care characteristics are associated with client priorities in communication. Being attentive to clients' educational level, previous care experiences, current expectations and specific problem types might help professionals to adapt better to their clients' communication needs.

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