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Factors associated with adolescents’ perspectives on health needs and preference for health information sources in Taiwan


Objective To identify health needs, preferred sources of health information and associated factors in Taiwanese adolescents.

Design Cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey conducted in Taiwanese adolescents aged 12–18 years in 2010.

Outcome measures Adolescents were queried about their health needs, healthcare service utilisation and preferred sources of health information. We compared differences in reported health needs and available sources among gender groups and grade levels. Demographic correlates of adolescent health needs were further examined using multiple ordinal logistic regression analysis.

Results Participants (n=5018) needed weight and height information most, followed by dietary health advice. Academic stress was emphasised more than behavioural issues. Perceived needs for health information varied by age and gender. General high school programme, suburban location and chronic illness were associated with higher need. Only a small proportion (4.3%) of adolescents used healthcare services for mental and emotional concerns. Parents were the primary sources of health information, although students also turned to teachers, particularly for sensitive issues. Moreover, the mass media and internet were increasingly popular sources of information.

Conclusions To achieve continuous care from childhood through adolescence to adulthood, paediatricians should understand adolescents’ diverse views of health needs and preferred sources of health information. Several demographic variables were shown to influence their health needs, reflecting the East Asian cultural context. Anticipatory guidance on body image, dietary health and academic stress should be emphasised while caring for these adolescents. We therefore advocate the development and effective delivery of culturally relevant adolescent-friendly health services.

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