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Adolescents and health services

Video of Prof Cicely Marston describe how qualitative research can identify social issues that prevent young people from accessing health services

Qualitative research can help to improve health interventions for adolescents and young people. In this video, LSHTM Professor Cicely Marston uses the example of sexual and reproductive health to demonstrate why simply providing information and services is not always enough.

How can research help?

Qualitative research can give us clues about why young people might not take up contraception to protect against unwanted pregnancies and STIs, even when given enough information about contraceptive methods.

Social influences and pressures can be drawn out through qualitative research. Social expectations, particularly those around how men and women should behave, are a powerful influence on behaviour, as are young people’s ideas about stigma and risk. These pressures can make it harder to communicate clearly with a partner, making safe sex less likely.

How does this relate to health services?

Providing information and methods such as condoms without addressing some of the crucial social factors identified is clearly problematic. Involving young people in the planning and operation of programmes helps to position activities correctly and identify problems as they arise. An intervention for young people that doesn’t involve them during the design and implementation stages is likely to be unsuccessful.

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Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

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