Access to primary health care for Australian young people: service provider perspectives

Melissa Kang, Diana Bernard, Michael Booth, Susan Quine, Garth Alperstein, Tim Usherwood, David Bennett
British Journal of General Practice 2003, 53 (497): 947-52

BACKGROUND: To adequately address the complex health needs of young people, their access to services, and the quality of services received, must be improved.

AIMS: To explore the barriers to service provision for young people and to identify the training needs of primary healthcare service providers in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

DESIGN OF STUDY: A cross-sectional, qualitative study of the perspectives of a range of health service providers.

SETTING: A range of primary healthcare organisations across NSW.

METHODS: Samples of general practitioners (GPs), youth health workers, youth health coordinators, and community health centre staff were drawn from urban and rural clusters across NSW. Focus groups and interviews were used to identify barriers to service provision and the training needs of service providers. Data were tape recorded, transcribed, and analysed.

RESULTS: Barriers to service provision among GPs and community health centre staff included inadequate time, flexibility, skills, and confidence in working with young people, and poor linkages with other relevant services. Training needs included better knowledge of and skills in adolescent health requirements, working with adolescents, and working with other services. Barriers to service provision for youth health workers and coordinators included lack of financial resources and infrastructure. There were few linkages between groups of service providers.

CONCLUSION: Models of service provision that allow stronger linkages between service providers, sufficient time for consultation with young people, adequate training and support of health professionals, and flexibility of service provision, including outreach, should be explored and evaluated.

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