Who Speaks for the Adolescent?

Victor C. Strasburger, MD
JAMA. 1983;249(8):1021. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330320019023.
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ADOLESCENT medicine began more than 30 years ago when J. Roswell Gallagher established the first Adolescent Unit at Boston Children's Hospital in 1952.1 His rationale was that "medical clinics devoted to the care of a single age group foster a physician's tendency to consider his patient, diminish the likelihood that he will focus upon disease alone, and help to increase his knowledge of what patients are like and what they require at various times of their life."2 A new breed of physician was spawned—part psychiatrist, part gynecologist, part internist, part dermatologist, and part pediatrician. Twenty years later, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clearly staked out adolescents as being within a pediatrician's practice "boundaries": "The purview of pediatrics includes the growth, development, and health of the child... and continues through childhood and adolescence.... The responsibility of pediatrics may therefore begin during pregnancy and usually terminates by 21 years


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