Nova Scotia High School Students' Interactions with Physicians for Sexual Health Information and Services

By Langille, Donald B; Murphy, Gail Tomblin et al. | Canadian Journal of Public Health, May/June 2001 | Go to article overview

Nova Scotia High School Students' Interactions with Physicians for Sexual Health Information and Services


Langille, Donald B, Murphy, Gail Tomblin, Hughes, Jean, Rigby, Janet A, Canadian Journal of Public Health


ABSTRACT

Purpose: To support a community effort to establish a health service in a Nova Scotia high school, adolescents' sexual behaviours and use of physicians for sexual health services were assessed.

Methods: A self-completion survey asked students about sexual behaviours, use of physician services and barriers to use of those services.

Results: Only 8.7% of male and 37.9% of female students with family physicians had discussed with the physician whether they were sexually experienced (p<0.0001). More females had discussed sexual activity when the physician was female than when the physician was male (43.7% vs. 35.1%; p<0.05). More sexually experienced females who had not discussed this behaviour with their physicians identified specific issues as barriers to discussion.

Conclusions: Female physicians discuss sexual activity more with their adolescent female patients than do male physicians. The results support the need to provide health services in addition to those of physicians to meet the sexual health needs of adolescents.

A B R f G

Objet : A l'appui d'un projet communautaire d'etablissement d'un service de same dans une ecole secondaire de la NouvelleLosse, nous avons evalue les comportements sexuels d'adolescents et leur recours aux medecins pour obtenir des services de santesexuality.

Methode : Dans un questionnaire i remplir soi-meme, nous avons interroge les olives sur leurs comportements sexuels, leur recours aux services d'un medecin et les obstacles 3 (utilisation de tell services.

Resultats: Seuls 8,7 % des garons et 37,9 % des filles qui avaient un medecin de famille avaient discute avec lui ou elle de leur activite sexuelle (p<0,0001). Les filles etaient plus nombreuses l'avoir fait lorsque leur medecin etait une femme plutot qu'un homme (43,7 % contre 35,1 %; p<0,05). Les files actives sur le plan sexuel qui n'avaient pas park de leur comportement at leur medecin ont cite des obstacles pr&is i cet Ogard.

Conclusions: Les femmes medecins discutent davantage d'activite sexuelle avec leurs parientes adolescentes que ne le font leurs collegues masculine. Ces resultats conferment le besoin de fournir des services de santa complementaires i ceux des medecins pour repondre aux besoins des adolescents en matiere de same-sexualize.

Many Canadian' and Nova Scotian'-' adolescents are sexually active, often times with negative consequences. The pregnancy rate for Canadian women aged 15-19 was 48.8/1000 in 1994,5 while about 4% of Nova Scotian adolescents become pregnant each year.' Adolescent pregnancy is most often unintended and is associated with significant negative sequelae.7-9 Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are associated with pelvic inflammatory disease and its complications.10,11 Genital chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI in Canada, with the highest rates reported in those aged 15-19.12

Though effective relationships between physicians and young people are crucial to prevention of these negative outcomes,13-16 sexuality education for physicians is often inadequate.17-19 Physicians often do not take sexual histories, 20-23 and Nova Scotia physicians report not often asking about sexual orientation and practices.24 The American Medical Association's Guidelines for Adolescent Preventive Services recommends that adolescents be asked annually about sexual activity, use of condoms and contraception, sexual orientation, and number of partners.25 A recent review in the U.S. determined that these health behaviours often go unaddressed.26 Little has been written about adolescents' views of physicians as resources for sexual health education and services. What exists indicates that communication with physicians about sexual health is difficult for young people. 27,28

The research described here took place in the context of providing supportive information for a community effort to establish a dedicated health service for students attending a high school of approximately 1,700 students in a community in Nova Scotia. …

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