Aim and objective. The purpose of this study was to explore young people’s expectations and experiences of discussing sexual and relationship health with healthcare professionals whilst attending or having been admitted to an acute children’s hospital. Background. Sexual health and teenage pregnancy are topics of debate in the context of public health. Programmes that provide sexual and relationship education to young people are often delivered in education and/or community health settings. However, a significant proportion of young people access acute health services, yet the literature on acute service providers opportunistically providing sexual and relationship advice to young people is limited. Design. Survey. Methods. One hundred young people attending either an outpatient appointment or being discharged following an in-patient episode on a hospital ward were approached to complete a questionnaire. Discussion of the questionnaire findings was undertaken with a group of eight young people, which enriched the interpretation and provided clarity of the findings. Results. The topic of sexual and relationship health was important to young people. Although young people infrequently sought advice when in acute settings, they wanted to know there was a choice to discuss these issues with healthcare professionals in the hospital. Young people suggested that professionals needed to have a level of sensitivity and confidence to be able to initiate sexual and relationship discussions with young people. Conclusion. The information from the questionnaires and the discussion group highlighted that young people feel they need to know there is an option to discuss sexual and relationship health whilst attending or being admitted to an acute children’s hospital. By giving young people a choice to participate or decline in dialogues about sexual and relationship health, a degree of empowerment and level of respect can be encouraged between young people and healthcare professionals. Relevance to clinical practice. Healthcare professionals need to be mindful of opportunities to engage young people in maximising their health and well-being, this includes providing them with a choice to discuss sexual and relationship health issues in any health setting.
- health promotion hospitals sexual and relationship health young people