Original Study| Volume 32, ISSUE 2, P170-174, April 2019

Emergency Department Directors Are Willing to Expand Reproductive Health Services for Adolescents

Published:October 16, 2018DOI:


      Study Objective

      Nearly 20 million adolescents receive emergency department (ED) care each year, many of whom have untreated reproductive health issues. ED visits represent an opportunity to provide appropriate care, however, ED physician reproductive health care practices and capabilities in the United States have not been described. We sought to characterize pediatric ED director's individual practice and ED system resources for providing adolescent reproductive health care.

      Design, Setting, Participants, and Interventions

      We invited pediatric ED division and/or medical directors nationally to participate in an anonymous, online survey.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Outcomes included ED directors' personal practice regarding providing adolescent patients reproductive health care, and their ED's resources and standard practice regarding screening adolescents for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other reproductive health concerns.


      One hundred thirty-five of 442 (30.5%) ED directors responded. Respondents were 73% (90/124) male, with a median of 18 (interquartile range, 13-23) years of experience and 63% (84/134) working in urban EDs. Seventy-one percent (90/130) preferred face-to-face interviews for obtaining a sexual history, but only 59% (77/130) of participants “always ask parents to leave the room for sensitive questions.” Eighty-four percent (106/127) were receptive to pregnancy prevention interventions being initiated in the ED, with 75% (80/106) of those willing to provide an intervention. Only 16% (21/128) indicated their ED has a universal STI screening program, and only 18% (23/126) “always” successfully notify patients of a positive STI test.


      ED directors are comfortable providing adolescent reproductive health care, and many individual- and ED-level opportunities exist to provide improved reproductive health care for adolescents in the ED.

      Key Words

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