Teen Health Talk

Key contacts

Dr. Stephanie Lamb  stephanielamb@nhs.net

Susan Malkin  susan.malkin@gstt.nhs.uk

Elanor Williams elanor.williams@gstt.nhs.uk


Health inequalities impact heavily on adolescents; this and many more aspects of adolescent health are often neglected. We know that adolescent health is important, not least because 70% of preventable deaths among adults are the result of behaviours initiated or reinforced in adolescence. Healthcare for adolescents is not adequately responsive to adolescents health needs, and communication between healthcare professionals and teens is often poor. Adolescents tell us that they want better healthcare that is more responsive to their needs and lifestyles. Timely healthcare interventions at this developmental stage can have long term benefits.

  • Healthy behaviours can be established
  • Long term mental health problems can be prevented
  • Appropriate use of health services can be encouraged

The Teen Health Talk (THT) is a resource that has been developed to support a structured and meaningful consultation with young people, for early identification of vulnerable teenagers with physical and mental health issues so that they can be supported to make healthy lifestyle choices which can potentially last the life course. 

It has been designed by a GP expert in adolescent health, Dr Stephanie Lamb, clinical lead for primary care within the Children & Young People’s Health Partnership (CYPHP). This resource was developed in close consultation with the many young people who have been helped by her and the team’s service at The Well Centre.

CYPHP is exploring how the Teen Health Talk can be used more widely, both by GPs and other professionals such as youth workers.

SMART objectives

To improve young people’s experience of primary care consultations.

To identify unmet areas of need and signpost young people to appropriate support.

To engage young people in hospital to talk about their physical and emotional well-being and to signpost them to services and encourage them to remain engaged with health services. 

Progress made:

The Teen Health Talk is available as an EMIS (GP data system) template as a structured set of questions and ‘conversation starters’ alerting the GP to current medical problems, lifestyle, risk factors, and safety. It provides prompts, helping the GP conduct an effective consultation, and provides links to available resources.

CYPHP are training Redthread and the London Gang Exit youth workers in the use of a modified version of the THT called ‘You and Your Health’ to support them in engaging hard to reach groups

A youth worker, funded by CYPHP, as part of the King’s Adolescent Outreach Service (KAOS) is using the resource tool to support young people aged 16 to 19 years old who are being treated on adult wards across King’s College Hospital. Using the tool the youth worker is able to engage the young person in talking about their physical and emotional well-being and to signpost them to services and encourage them to remain engaged with health services.


What have you learned from doing this?

Early pilot testing has shown us that to support wider role out across primary care we need to provide more input and training to raise awareness of why teen health is relevant and important. We are developing materials that are readily accessible within primary care, for example a training/awareness video to help support primary care in the use of the THT.

We will be evaluating the youth worker training to assess improvements in knowledge and skills and impact, by convening focus groups to follow up with the youth workers experience of working with young people.

We are working with King’s Health Partners to scope the potential for developing an electronic version of the THT so that it can be accessed via tablet or phone in the hospital and information will be readily accessible through the electronic patient record (EPR).


What’s your take home message?

70% of adult preventable deaths are the result of behaviors initiated or reinforced in adolescence. Timely interventions at this developmental stage can have long term benefits in all aspects of life. However healthcare for adolescents is often poor, due in part to lack of support and training for workforce. The Teen Health Talk supports general practitioners and other people working with young people to have structured conversations about physical and mental health care to enable healthy behaviors to be established, prevent long term mental health problems and encourage appropriate use of health services.


If you are interested in using the Teen Health Check in your practice, please contact Ellie Williams at elanor.williams@gstt.nhs.uk for further information.

For informaton about the CYPHP visit  http://www.cyphp.org/

The Well Centre https://www.thewellcentre.org

About Kings Adolesecnt Outreach Service    https://cyphp.org/whats-new/134-kaos-king-s-hospital-s-new-project-to-improve-care-for-adolescents

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