Adolescent and parent perceptions on youth participation in risk behavior research

Ryan H Pasternak, Gail Geller, Catherine Parrish, Tina L Cheng
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2006, 160 (11): 1159-66

OBJECTIVES: To assess and compare parent and adolescent views on the importance of risk behavior research and the need for parental consent and to identify predictors of views.

DESIGN: Confidential survey.

SETTING: Adolescent, general pediatrics clinics.

PARTICIPANTS: Adolescents aged 14 to 17 years presenting alone (solo) or with a parent or guardian (paired) and parents or guardians. Of 265 eligible pairs (199 solo adolescents), 134 (93) had useable surveys. The proportion of females in the parent or guardian, paired adolescent, and solo adolescent groups was 92%, 59%, and 75%, respectively; and the proportion of African Americans in these groups was 67%, 69%, and 91%, respectively.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Views on the importance of and requirement of parental consent for confidential risk behavior research.

RESULTS: Most parents (98%), paired adolescents (99%), and solo adolescents (100%) believed confidential risk behavior research surveys with teenagers were important; greater than 90% of all groups believed surveys should be conducted. The proportion of parents, paired adolescents, and solo adolescents that endorsed requiring parental permission was 84%, 53%, and 19%, respectively. Parents were less likely to endorse requiring permission if they had confidential health concerns as teenagers and were more likely to endorse requiring permission if their child was younger or female, if they believed their child had sex, and if they were a parent vs a guardian. Adolescents were more likely to endorse requiring permission if they were younger, not African American, and had more educated parents. Adolescents presenting with parents were more likely to endorse requiring permission.

CONCLUSIONS: Parents and adolescents believed risk behavior research with adolescents was important. Most parents believed parental permission is needed for participation. Compared with parents, fewer adolescents believed parental consent was necessary. It is not clear what effect requirement of parental permission would have on participation or validity. Further research is needed to elucidate views on adolescent risk behavior research.

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