Cari McCarty, PhDResearch Professor, UWInvestigator, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Pre-Visit Electronic Screening Helps Doctors Counsel Their Adolescent Patients Interview with:

Cari McCarty, PhDResearch Professor, UWInvestigator, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Dr. McCarty

Cari McCarty, PhD
Research Professor, UW
Investigator, Seattle Children’s Research Institute What is the background for this study?

Response: Adolescence is a time when teens begin to take charge of their health, but it is also a time when they can be prone to health risk behaviors, such as insufficient physical activity, poor sleep, and substance use. We were interested in whether using an electronic health risk screening tool in primary care settings could improve healthcare and health for adolescents.  The tool was designed to provide screening as well as motivational feedback directly to adolescents, in addition to clinical decision support for the healthcare clinician.  We conducted a trial with 300 adolescent patients where one group received the screening tool prior to their health checkup, and the other group received usual care. What are the main findings? 

Response: Adolescents who were given the electronic health screening tool prior to their appointment were more likely to report that their doctor counseled them about the risk behaviors they endorsed, and also were more likely to reduce their overall health risk behaviors 3 months later. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Electronic screening tools can help providers identify the most important and relevant health topics to discuss with their adolescent patients, and can be motivating to patients in prompting behavior change. Overall, this was an effective intervention for improving preventive services for adolescents. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: This tool provides a fairly brief intervention, and as such we would like to know how long the impact on health behavior change lasts in future studies.  We would also be interested in seeing effects in a higher-risk population of adolescents.

Disclosures: Seattle Children’s Hospital has signed a licensing agreement with Tickit Health whereby Drs. Richardson and McCarty would receive royalties on future sales of the tool. A conflict of interest management plan is in place.   


Richardson LP, Zhou C, Gersh E, Spielvogle H, Taylor JA, McCarty CA. Effect of Electronic Screening With Personalized Feedback on Adolescent Health Risk Behaviors in a Primary Care SettingA Randomized Clinical TrialJAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e193581. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.3581

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Last Updated on May 13, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD