Encouraging pre-teens to use primary care
Practice-based sessions for parents and children can encourage young people to talk about puberty and related health issues and access primary care appropriately and confidently.
An introductory session for 10-year-old children and their parents was set up by a practice. The topics for discussion included puberty, relationships and any other health matters. The session was facilitated, and delivered, by a health visitor and practice nurse with experience in sexual and reproductive health.
The evening also included watching a video and discussion on dealing with physical and emotional changes around this age. Both parents and children watched the video together but they went into separate rooms for the discussions.
There was some interesting feedback through a questionnaire. Most children felt more confident to contact staff at the surgery for more information. Parents reported that their children talked to them the following evening or on the way home from the session. One single father was grateful for the opportunity to talk about puberty with his daughter, a subject he did not feel he had the knowledge to deal with.
The authors were not able to follow the children up to see if their behaviour changed or if they attended the weekly young persons' clinic.
This scheme may have potential to reduce rates of STIs and unplanned pregnancies in young people. However, unless this adds value to health and social development education sessions (PHSE) that already exist in schools, I doubt there will be a nationwide roll out.
Tyler S, Mayhew-Stokes C, Jackson E. Engaging with pre-teens and their parents in primary care J Fam Plann Repro Health Care 2009; 23(1): 38-40Reviewer
Dr Richard Ma
GP principal, North London and staff grade in sexual and reproductive health, Margaret Pyke Centre, London