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J Adolesc Health. 2004 Oct;35(4):303-9.

Adolescents in mid-sized and rural communities: foregone care, perceived barriers, and risk factors.

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Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Minnesota, 1035 University Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota 55812, USA.



To investigate the perceived health care needs, foregone care, barriers to care, and associated risk factors in a non-urban population of adolescents.


Tenth-grade students attending school and 15-17-year-old youth not attending school in a Midwestern county were surveyed or interviewed. Eighty-six percent provided usable data (n = 1948, 134 of whom were not in school). Nine focus groups (71 participants; 28 were not in school) were conducted in follow-up. Quantitative analysis included descriptive statistics, factor analysis, and logistic regression. Qualitative analysis of taped focus groups identified themes and interpreted findings.


Although 91% had seen a physician in the past 2 years, 44% reported foregoing needed care in the last year. Barriers for specific health needs were: cost of care and lack of insurance coverage for injuries and illnesses; lack of knowledge, distrust, and stigma for depression; embarrassment and transportation for birth control and sexually transmitted infections (STIs); and not knowing where or how to access care for drug and alcohol use. Youth most likely to have foregone care included those involved with dangerous activities under peer pressure (1.8, CI: 1.44-2.13), sexual intercourse (1.4, CI: 1.25-1.67), marijuana use (1.4, CI: 1.17-1.67), anticipating parenthood before age 20 years (1.2, CI: 1.04-1.33), male gender (2.5, CI: 1.89-2.86) and perceiving good health (1.7, CI: 1.45-1.85).


Nearly half of this non-urban population (both in and out of school) reported foregoing needed care in the last year. The barriers to care include lack of information, lack of access, poor insurance coverage, parenting issues, and concern about confidentiality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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