Introduction: Adolescents have specific health care needs, and addressing their needs requires skillful communication. Physicians in many disciplines provide care for adolescents, including pediatricians, family physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists, psychiatrists, surgeons, and many subspecialists. While pediatric residents must complete a rotation in adolescent medicine, there is no consistent requirement for residents in other disciplines to acquire skills in interviewing adolescents. The Home, Education and Eating, Activities, Drug Use, Sexuality and Suicidality (HEADSS) framework provides an approach to adolescent interviewing that starts with non-threatening topics like home and school and progresses to more personal questions. While literature exists that describes the HEADSS interview itself, there are no published teaching activities that medical school faculty can use to teach the skills needed to conduct a HEADSS interview. This module addresses this concern. Methods: Third-year medical Students first read an article on the HEADSS interview and attend a learning session featuring individualized goal setting and coached role play. Students then identify a learning goal and perform a HEADSS examination with a standardized adolescent patient coming in for contraception during an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). Students are evaluated with a standardized-patient checklist. Results: Initial analysis of evaluative data for this teaching plan demonstrated that after the described introduction to the HEADSS examination, most students covered most of the topic areas of this screening interview during a subsequent standardized patient encounter. Furthermore, retrospective pre/post questionnaire data showed that the students acquired important knowledge and skills in interviewing adolescents. Discussion: While literature exists that describes the HEADSS interview itself, there are no published teaching activities that medical school faculty can use to teach the skills needed to conduct a HEADSS interview. With a teaching plan and assessment tools like those in this publication, medical educators will have teaching tools that are easy to use to instruct medical students on these important skills.
- Conduct the adolescent Home, Education and Eating, Activities, Drug Use, Sexuality and Suicidality (HEADSS) interview in a role play with other medical students.
- Identify a learning goal for improving their own skills in performing the adolescent HEADSS interview.
- Perform a HEADSS examination of an adolescent patient coming in for contraception.
This is an open-access publication distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license.