Physical health problems occurring during adolescence can often complicate adolescent development. Illness, injury, medical treatments, hospitalization, and surgery can all intensify concerns about physical appearance, interfere with efforts to gain independence, and disrupt changing relationships with parents and friends. Also, adolescent developmental issues may complicate a teenager's ability to cope with illness and response to treatment.
While some of these youth have to cope with additional physical and mental disabilities as a result of their primary illness, all of them have to deal with the psychological consequences of their condition.
The main focus of adolescent medicine involves addressing the medical and treatment needs of the adolescent's illness, condition, or injury. Complementary to this, adolescent medicine also anticipates and assesses developmental complications associated with the health care needs of the specific medical problem. Doctors and other health care providers in adolescent medicine assist adolescents and their families in developing strategies to deal with developmental issues and the complications and conflicts that may erupt between illness, treatment, and developmental needs.