Introduction: In the UK, young people have been identified as a specific group who experience poor sexual health and there is scope for improving this if sexual health services are sensitive and relevant to their needs. This paper reports on the work of two services which were set up specifically for young people, exploring whether the model of service provision adopted was successful in engaging this group.
Methods: Routine monitoring data (anonymous) in relation to all contacts with the services were collected. After the services had become established, short questionnaires were administered to young people using them.
Results: For service one, 425 contacts were recorded over 34 service sessions. Of these, 149 were new clients: 52% young men (78) and 48% young women (71), with a mean age of 14 years. There were 259 repeat contacts: 74% with young men (191) and 26% with young women (68). For service two, 399 contacts were recorded over 61 service sessions. Of these, 118 were new clients: 32% young men (38) and 68% young women (80), with a mean age of 16.8 years. There were 274 repeat contacts: 40% with young men (108) and 60% (166) with young women. All of the young people were generally very satisfied with the services they received. The youngest young people were less likely to indicate that they would have accessed other sexual health services.
Discussion and conclusions: This study indicates that young people of both sexes, between the ages of 11 and 19 years, can be engaged by sexual health services, if provision is modelled on 'best practice' and what is known about the sexual health service needs of young people. Engagement with such services is a prerequisite for addressing the diversity of sexual health needs young people are likely to have in contemporary society and the findings of this study in relation to gender and age are particularly pertinent.