Objectives: To identify the sexual health needs of young people in order to establish a service suited to these needs.
Methods: A peer designed questionnaire piloted to a small group of young people was followed by a more widely distributed, amended questionnaire. The questionnaire survey was delivered to 744 pupils aged 11–18 years in six secondary schools and a pupil exclusion unit in central London. Factors encouraging or discouraging the use of young people’s sexual health services were measured.
Results: Several findings challenged existing models of care for young people’s sexual health services. Notably, pupils wanted clinics to run more frequently than the usual once a week; the staff attributes that were most important were attitudinal rather than to do with sex, age, or physical appearance; and they did not mind if the waiting room contained older people. Many findings, however, agreed with existing data—young people wanted the clinic to be open after school; girls preferred to attend with a friend; a confidential, walk-in service was preferred.
Conclusions: Large financial outlays are not necessary for the establishment of effective sexual health services for young people. Existing facilities and staff may be utilised with training of these staff to be sensitive to, and aware of, the needs of young people. Clinic opening times should coincide with school closing times. Although pupils stated a preference for female staff, this was not a high priority. More important was feeling that staff would listen to them and take their problems seriously, and that confidentiality would be maintained.
- young people
- sexual health
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