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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 35–38 | Cite as

Completing the Picture: Adolescents Talk About What’s Missing in Sexual Health Services

  • Alba DiCensoEmail author
  • Vicki W. Borthwick
  • Cheryl A. Busca
  • Catia Creatura
  • Jayne A. Holmes
  • Wyn F. Kalagian
  • Betsy M. Partington
Article

Abstract

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.

Résumé

Notre étude qualitative visait à sonder l’opinion d’adolescents au sujet des services de santé-sexualité et des stratégies pour en améliorer la prestation. Nous avons organisé 16 groupes de concertation d’une heure et demie entre adolescents du même sexe dans deux écoles secondaires (l’une urbaine, l’autre rurale) dans chacune de deux régions de l’Ontario. En tout, 83 élèves (49 filles, 34 garçons) y ont participé. Ils ont discuté des sources et de la qualité de l’information sur la santé-sexualité, de la connaissance et de l’utilisation des services à cet égard, des différences entre les sexes, des facteurs qui influencent le comportement sexuel, puis suggéré des améliorations aux services de santé-sexualité. Les participants ont déclaré que les cours d’éducation sexuelle étaient trop axés sur la « tuyauterie » et souvent dispensés par des enseignants avec qui ils ne se sentaient pas à l’aise pour parler de sexualité. Les pairs et les médias étaient les principales sources d’information des adolescents, qui en reconnaissaient cependant les lacunes. Les participants n’avaient qu’une connaissance limitée des services disponibles. Beaucoup de leurs remarques reflétaient les différences traditionnelles entre les sexes. Les pairs et (chez les filles) les partenaires et les parents exerçaient une influence sur leurs décisions en matière de sexualité. Les participants ont formulé de nombreuses suggestions pour améliorer les services de santé-sexualité.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alba DiCenso
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Vicki W. Borthwick
    • 4
  • Cheryl A. Busca
    • 5
  • Catia Creatura
  • Jayne A. Holmes
    • 4
  • Wyn F. Kalagian
    • 5
  • Betsy M. Partington
    • 5
  1. 1.School of NursingMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsMcMaster UniversityCanada
  3. 3.Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth Social and Public Health Services Division PHRED ProgramCanada
  4. 4.Haldimand-Norfolk Regional Health DepartmentCanada
  5. 5.Regional Niagara Public Health DepartmentCanada

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