Adolescent health : problems, needs, services and service providers.
There is a paucity of knowledge regarding adolescent's preferences for care. The
health related problems they face have implications for individuals and nations.
To determine the health problems and needs of adolescents, their knowledge, use
of, and preferences for health related services and service providers.
A descriptive study involving a two-stage probability sample. An interview
schedule was designed for data collection.
Eight randomly selected main-stream high schools in Stoke-on-Trent, England.
One hundred and eleven males and 142 females aged 14 and 15 years between 1 st
April and 30th June 1994.
The adolescents had unmet problems and needs relating to lifestyle and
risk-taking behaviour, sexual and reproductive health, and emotional problems,
influenced by socio-economic and legislative factors. Services were used
primarily for physical problems. Knowledge of the location and opening times of
two local contraceptive services for adolescents was poor (10/253,4%). Factors
they associated with confidentiality were identified.
Preferences for service providers varied with the nature of the problem. The girls
were more likely to give advice to peers regarding substance abuse,
and issues relating to sexual and reproductive health, and expressed a greater preference for advice from peers on these issues. The services the adolescents
wanted to see provided were appropriate to their needs and reflected a holistic
concept of health.
• The Health of the Nation targets will not be met unless these problems and needs
• Potential intervention points for health promotion are being missed.
• Local services must be widely advertised.
• Adolescents need specific reassurance from service providers that their care will
• Positive actions adolescents are prepared to take need reinforcing.
• Peer counselling programmes might be expected to have a greater positive
impact on girls.
• Adolescents' opinions regarding service provision must be taken into account.