Aims To assess the attitudes of young people towards routine adolescent health screening, in order to inform further work towards development of an adolescent health screening programme in the UK.
Methods A paper questionnaire was administered to 134 year 10 students, asking how comfortable young people felt about being asked questions about sensitive subjects such as sexual and mental health, who they preferred to seek health care advice from, and how honest they thought they would be. Data was analysed using Rstudio. A focus group was held with 12 year 10 students, to further investigate attitudes towards health screening and to identify specific issues. The session was transcribed and thematic content analysis undertaken.
Quantitative Results 134 year 10 students completed the questionnaire, 52.3% were female, 58.64% were 14 years old, 38.35% were 15 years old. Over half were white British (65.41%). When asked whom they would rather talk to about their health, there was a significant preference for doctors and parents, versus the other groups (p = 0.01). The young people felt similarly comfortable talking about all topics except sexual health, which they felt less comfortable with. They felt they could be honest answering questions about all the topics. 79% either preferred or were neutral to health screening occurring in school.
Qualitative Results Themes discussed were issues with honesty, an absolute need for confidentiality, an interest in receiving timely feedback after answering the questionnaire, and a desire to be involved in further work in this area.
Conclusion Students largely found the concept of health screening acceptable and also were happy to complete the health screening in a school setting. The key concerns were about confidentiality and the need for some sort of feedback after completing a health questionnaire. The young people were keen to be involved in the design of such a questionnaire. The results of this study support further collaborative work with young people to develop an adolescent health screening tool.
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