Providing sexual health services in England : meeting the needs of young people
There is an on-going debate among health professionals, policy-makers and politicians, as to the optimal way of delivering sexual health services to young people. There is as yet, no consensus on their best patterns of organisation or configuration. This study uses qualitative and quantitative research methods, to explore both the views of young people accessing sexual health services, expressed through in-depth interview, and variations in client satisfaction with different characteristics of service delivery, expressed through completion of a questionnaire. The key research questions are: How does young people’s satisfaction with sexual health services vary with the age-dedication of the service; that is, whether it serves young people only, or all ages? How does young people’s satisfaction with sexual health services vary with the integration of the service; that is, whether family planning and genito-urinary services are offered separately, or together? How does young people’s satisfaction with sexual health services vary with the location of the service; that is, in community or hospital based services? In the qualitative component, in-depth interviews were conducted with 25 young people recruited from a purposively selected sample of young people’s services. In the survey, a total sample of 1166 was achieved. Of these, 36% were attending an integrated contraceptive and STI service and 64% were attending a more traditional ‘separate’ service. 48% attended a service dedicated to young people and 52% an all-age service. 50% attended a hospital-based service and 50% a service located in the community. Of the total sample, 22% were male and 78% female. The analysis has been done not on a comparison of services in their entirety, but on a comparison of key features of their organisation, that is, whether they are provided separately as contraceptive and STI sessions or services, or whether these aspects of sexual health provision are integrated in sessions or services (integration); on whether they are run exclusively for young people or for all ages (dedication); and on whether they are located in the community or in a hospital setting (location). Recommendations are made for future service development and delivery and implications for policy are discussed.