World peace, to be a millionaire, and hoop dreams: adolescent wishes on health screening surveys.
OBJECTIVE: This study sought to learn the wishes of young adolescents via an open-ended survey question and to determine the association of these wishes with sociodemographic variables. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional study of consecutive adolescents aged 11-14 years who had a well-child visit at a clinic with a diverse patient population, who completed a Guidelines for Adolescent Preventive Services (GAPS) previsit health questionnaire, and who answered the question, "If you could have three wishes come true, what would they be?" Responses to this question were double-coded according to thematic content and whether wishes were for self, others, or both. RESULTS: Among 96 respondents, wishes for others were listed more frequently by girls than by boys (54% versus 31%; P = .02). Girls also had more family-oriented wish themes (27% versus 10%; P = .04). Boys were more likely to wish for success (17% versus 4%; P = .05). Among respondents with private insurance, 45% wished for the good for the world, with responses such as "world peace"; only 12% of respondents with Medicaid wished for the good of the world (P = .01). No statistically significant differences were identified by race/ethnicity or age. Positive future orientation themes such as career were not as prioritized as previously suggested in the literature. LIMITATIONS: The sample population derives from a single university-based clinic in North Carolina; while diverse, this population may not be representative of larger groups. CONCLUSIONS: Many wishes seemed predictable (ie, for wealth, athleticism), but occasionally wishes were poignant and original ("to have papers for my parents to pass the border"); this finding reinforces the value of listening to adolescents' wishes. Both sex and insurance status were related to wish themes. Further research should determine how knowledge of adolescents' wishes can be used to best direct individual care.
Boyd, JP; Steiner, MJ; Skinner, AC; Coyne-Beasley, T; Perrin, EM
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