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Can J Public Health. 2001 Jan-Feb;92(1):35-8.

Completing the picture: adolescents talk about what's missing in sexual health services.

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School of Nursing, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5.


This qualitative study was conducted to learn adolescents' opinions about sexual health services and strategies to improve their delivery. Sixteen 1.5-hour, same-sex focus groups were conducted in one rural and one urban high school in each of two Ontario regions. In total, 83 students (49 females and 34 males) participated in the study. Topics were: sources and quality of sexual health information, knowledge and use of sexual health services, gender differences, factors that influence sexual behaviour, and suggestions for improving sexual health services. The adolescents reported that sex education focussed too much on "plumbing" and was often provided by teachers with whom they felt uncomfortable discussing sexual issues. Peers and media were their main sources of information although they acknowledged that these were not always accurate. The participants had limited knowledge of the services available. Many of their comments reflected traditional gender differences. Peers, and for females, partners and parents influenced sexual decision-making. The participants made numerous suggestions for improving sexual health services.

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