This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Health risk behaviors are activities that may harm a person’s health. These behaviors include using drugs or alcohol, not getting enough exercise, or having sex without protection. Teens have some of the highest rates of health risk behaviors of all age groups. Health risk behaviors that start at a young age can last into adulthood.
One way to prevent risky behaviors in teens is for primary care doctors to discuss them with their patients. But doctors don’t always ask patients about their health risk behaviors. Also, doctors don’t always follow up with patients who take part in risky behaviors to help them make healthy choices.
In this study, the research team is developing two online programs called I-ACT and Check Yourself. I-ACT trains doctors to talk with teens about risky behaviors. Check Yourself asks teens about health risk behaviors. It also gives teens feedback that promotes healthy choices. The team is comparing the effectiveness of these programs, used together, with usual care alone for reducing health risk behaviors, and looking at teens’ satisfaction with the care they receive.
Who can this research help?
Primary care clinics can consider results of this study when planning ways to reduce risky behavior among teens.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is recruiting 302 patients ages 13–18 who have an appointment to see a doctor at one of six clinics around Seattle, as well as 286 of these teens’ caregivers. The team is assigning the clinics by chance to start the study at different times. Once a clinic starts the study, that clinic provides 10 weeks of usual care. Then, doctors at the clinic take the I-ACT training. Then, for the next 10 weeks, patients at the clinic receive Check Yourself.
The I-ACT training begins with a one-hour session for doctors on how to use motivational interviewing, which is a type of counseling to help people change risky behaviors, with teens and their parents. I-ACT also includes feedback for the clinic and a chance for doctors to talk about the skills with each other.
The Check Yourself app asks teens questions about health risk behaviors and helps them set healthy behavior goals. Teens use the app at the clinic before meeting with their doctor. The app sends doctors a report with information about their patients’ health risk behaviors to aid discussion.
The research team is surveying teens and caregivers before each teen’s visit with their doctor, and then again one day later. The team wants to know if teens who use Check Yourself and see a doctor who has done the I-ACT training rate their quality of care higher than teens who get usual care alone. Also, the team is comparing caregivers’ satisfaction with their teens’ care. Finally, the research team is asking teens about their health risk behaviors 3, 6, and 12 months after their doctor visit.
Teens, caregivers, and primary care doctors are helping to develop Check Yourself and I-ACT. They are also giving input on how to train doctors to talk with teens about health risks.
Research methods at a glance
Other Health Services Interventions
Training and Education Interventions