Background There is currently no widely accepted guidelines regarding sexual health promotion for paediatric staff. Consequently, valuable opportunities to provide much needed education are unfortunately being “missed”. Young people (YP) in hospital have an ideal opportunity to discuss sexual health in confidence with healthcare workers.
Objectives The objective of this service evaluation was to assess the role of healthcare professionals and their views on providing sexual health education to adolescents on the wards. Understanding perceived views and identifying barriers and leavers is crucial in exploring some of the reasons behind why potentially ideal situations to provide sexual health information are currently being “missed”.
Methods Questionnaires were completed by paediatric staff members. The responses were anonymised and data were collected from mid-October 2011 until the end January 2012.
Results The overall response rate was 81%. The skills paediatric staff felt they possessed were: advising how to protect against pregnancy (91%), STDs (90%), prescribing contraception (61%), screening for psychosocial issues (26%), testing (34%) and treating STDs (40%). Almost 20% did not know about local sexual health centres. Furthermore, GPs were cited as the most appropriate healthcare professional to provide sexual health information.
Conclusion There appears to be a role for sexual health education within secondary care. We suggest that opportunistic health promotion should be considered by paediatric staff when dealing with YPs. Clearer guidance would minimise the number of “missed” opportunities and additional information sources (eg, leaflets) for patients and staff would enhance the provision of health promotion.