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Br J Gen Pract. Nov 1997; 47(424): 715–718.
PMCID: PMC1409956

Teenagers' views on the general practice consultation and provision of contraception. The Adolescent Working Group.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The rate of unwanted pregnancies in adolescents in the United Kingdom (UK) is one of the highest in Europe and is a major reason for the RCGP's concern at the under-use of general practitioners' (GPs') contraceptive services by young people. AIM: To discover the attitudes of 15- to 16-year-olds to the GP consultation and contraceptive services. METHOD: Questionnaires were completed as part of an evaluation of a novel sex education programme in 30 schools in 1994, and provided the data for this study. A total of 4481 teenagers (51.6% male and 48.4% female completed the questionnaires in their classrooms under conditions of complete confidentiality. RESULTS: The median consulting rate per year was two for males and three for females. Over 60% of adolescents attended the consultation with a parent. Of the males, 27.5% 'felt that the discussion with their GP could be relayed to their parents against their wishes', as did 25.1% of the females. Other difficulties with GP appointments were identified as embarrassment (63% of females and 46% of males), difficulty getting a quick appointment (44% of both males and females), and an unsympathetic GP (32% of females and 20.5% of males). CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents identify significant factors blocking them from easy access to consultation with their GP. These included lack of trust in confidentiality, lack of staff friendliness, and delay in appointment. Consideration of how these blocks can be removed will assist in providing improved contraceptive services in primary care. General practices need to consider the above factors when providing contraceptive and other services to their teenage patients.

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Selected References

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