The purpose of this essay is to explore confidentiality issues in regards to adolescents. Adolescent confidentiality is becoming a growing issue in healthcare as teens are engaging in a variety of health risk behaviours that should be known to their health care providers. We realize that in spite of teens independence they are less willing to share personal information if they think their parents will learn of such behaviours. Such issues usually stem from the fact that adolescents are legally minors, but they feel they should not be deemed so. I will attempt to explore if health care providers are legally bound to their obligation to discuss health information with a teens parents, or are we ethically bound to allow autonomy of a maturing youth? .
To begin I feel it worthy to give a definition of confidentiality in health care settings. "Confidentiality in a health care setting is defined as an agreement between patient and provider that information discussed during or after the encounter will not be shared with other parties without the explicit permission of the patient- (Sigman, G., Silber, T., Enlish, A., Gans, J., 1997, p. 409). Why is an adult of eighteen years any different than a child of seventeen? How can a mother of sixteen able to birth her child and make health care decisions for that child but not for themselves? .
To answer such questions, I believe it is important to take note where adolescents are in terms of development. The famous psychoanalyst, Erik Erikson describes 8 stages of psychosocial development. He implies there are goals that an adolescent needs to meet in order to continue successfully into adulthood. The two goals for the adolescent period are developing a sense of identity, separate from one's parents; as well as learning how to establish relationships with others (Du Gas, B.W., Esson, L., Ronaldson, S. , 1999). By denying autonomy are we not denying successful passage into adulthood? We should embrace teens throughout adulthood not constrain them and tie them to our shirt tails.