The American Academy of Pediatrics and Kognito launched Artificial Perfection: Talking to Teens about Performance Enhancement – a free, role-play simulation designed to prepare pediatricians and other child health professionals to lead real-life conversation with teens about appearance and performance-enhancing substances.

The use of appearance and performance-enhancing substances among youth has increased tremendously over the past decade – more than 10 percent of adolescents have misused prescription stimulants for cognitive enhancement, and about 6 percent of the general high-school population has used illegal steroids for appearance or strength enhancement. Physicians should be aware of the use of performance-enhancing substances by pediatric patients; be prepared to identify risk factors, signs, and symptoms; ask screening questions; and offer anticipatory guidance related to their use.

The simulation engages users in role-play conversations with three virtual and emotionally responsive patients presenting with signs of appearance and performance-enhancing substances. As the health professional in the simulation, users choose what to say to the virtual patient; how to respond to their hesitations, resistance and misconceptions; and how to use motivational interviewing techniques to motivate them to change their behavior. At the end of each role-play conversation, a personalized reporting dashboard provides users with feedback on their performance in the conversation to support their ongoing pursuit of skills building. Continuing Medical Education is available for the simulation.

“Health care providers are often not aware of the prevalence of use of appearance and performance-enhancing agents in their patient panels. The goal of this Kognito simulation is to raise awareness of this issue among pediatricians, and to enhance comfort in recognizing and addressing these issues in their adolescent population,” said pediatrician Michele LaBotz, MD, FAAP, the lead subject matter expert for the AAP on the simulation’s development. “Pediatricians are in the best position to address patient and family concerns regarding use of these substances in a confidential and sensitive fashion, and completion of these virtual conversations will increase providers' knowledge of those substances currently in most common use.”

Artificial Perfection: Talking to Teens about Performance Enhancement is available for free and can be accessed online at: