Purpose: To identify the health concerns for which adolescent residents in New South Wales, Australia, do not receive health care, and the associated factors, including their sociodemographic distribution.
Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit school students who were stratified by gender and age (12-14, 14-16 and 16-17 years), from schools stratified by socioeconomic status and urban/rural location. Out-of-school young people were recruited through youth health services. Qualitative methods were used to collect and analyze data.
Results: Eighty-one focus groups were conducted. Most young people defined health solely in terms of their physical well-being, but still identified a broad range of situations, conditions, or behaviors which they believed might affect their health. One-third of females and two-thirds of males said they would not seek help for their health concerns, and when they did, were most likely to seek help from family, friends, or others they trusted. When professional help was sought, young people again preferred someone they knew and trusted. The three groups of barriers to accessing health care were: concerns about confidentiality, knowledge of services and discomfort in disclosing health concerns, and accessibility and characteristics of services. Factors related to use of health care services were associated with age, gender, and location, but rarely with socioeconomic status.
Conclusions: The majority of these young people in New South Wales (particularly males) do not seek health care despite identifying a broad range of issues that affect their health.