Introduction Adolescents are expected to take increasing responsibility for their health care needs. Managing healthcare is complex, ranging from self-administration of medicines to booking appointments. The age at which children and young people (CYP) take responsibility for their own medication and health care has not been widely reported.
Aims To determine the age CYP believe they take responsibility for aspects of their healthcare. Parents/carers were asked about the age at which they thought CYP should take responsibility.
Methods Questionnaires were used to ask CYP (10–25 years) the age at which they perceived they took, or would take responsibility, for their healthcare. Questions to CYP explored demographics, specific health care related tasks and also their basic adherence to medicines, including whether they required reminders. Parents/carers were asked to report the age where they believed CYP should take responsibility for aspects of their own healthcare using a set of 4 questions. Questionnaires were distributed at an educational activity at a local science museum and to students at a local secondary school and university.
Results Parents/carers (n=89) reported that the age at which they believed CYP should take responsibility for their healthcare was 16 years for: taking medication alone, collecting medicines from the pharmacy, attending an appointment alone, and booking appointments. There were no statistically significant differences in the ages reported for each of the four parameters.CYP (n=286; age range 10–25 years, mean age 16.9 years) reported that the age they felt they would/did take responsibility for their healthcare was 16.3 years (mean value); the most frequent ages reported were 18 (34.3% of responses) and 16 (33.6% of responses). The mean age of those reporting that they were completely responsible for managing their own medication was 18.1 years. There is a gap between 16 18 yrs when they are not actually taking full control independently and completely managing their needs, despite their perception that they can do this.
Conclusions Children, young people and parents are reporting that responsibility for healthcare needs should be from 16 years of age. Healthcare professionals need to ‘mind the gap’ from 16– 18yrs and target this age group to support taking responsibility for their healthcare.
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