Consulting with young people’s about their health needs

Linda Milnes. BMJ Evidence-Based Nursing blog. Published: 25 January, 2016

As the 2015 update of Key Data for Adolescence (Association for Young People’s Health) was published, last September, once again we are alerted to the fact that one fifth of the UK’s population are 10-24 years old, which is 11.7 million young people.   One in seven of this population have a diagnosis of a long-term condition or disability. Many of these young people will be cared for by specialist services in paediatric centres but will also access primary care services. An example of this is young people with asthma, reported as 800,000 in the UK.  Young people talk of experiencing daily symptoms, restrictions on activities, having good days and bad days and feeling different to their peers (Callery et al., 2003). Health care for this group should be patient-centred and focus on skilling young people to self-care effectively as they move towards adulthood a transition we know can bring many challenges for them.

Consultations between health professionals and young people are an opportunity to develop and build therapeutic relationships, gain young people’s perspectives on their condition and understand their priorities for effective self-care. However, research tells us that young people’s participation in consultations can be limited (Lyte et al., 2007; Cahill and Papageorgiou, 2007). Using asthma as an exemplar, young people report a lack of confidence in asking questions (Dixon-Woods et al., 2002), feeling intimidated (Milnes et al., 2014) and uncomfortable about attending asthma appointments alone (Edgecombe et al., 2010).


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