Date: March 17th, 2016
By: Gina Desiderio
Adolescent and Young Men’s Health: Focus Groups: Findings and Recommendations
Healthy Teen Network collaborated with the School-Based Health Alliance, a national association of school-based health centers and school health professionals, to conduct focus groups to gather information from adolescent and young and adult men (AYAM) of various races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses about their attitudes on general health; sexual and reproductive health; sources of health information; and experiences with well visits.
The full focus group findings and recommendations are shared in the Health Educator Resources and Opportunities (HERO) Guide, a compilation of resources to equip health educators in building and strengthening their individual and organization capacities to support healthy decision-making among adolescent and young adult men (AYAM).
In summary, we made the following observations from the focus groups:
Young men had varying definitions of health and well-being
Internet prevails as the leading health information source.
Most participants had a positive experience with physical check-ups.
Knowledge about HPV infectino and the vaccine was low.
Overall, all youth acknowledged that their primary source for obtaining information about their health is the internet even though they expressed distrust on the information they obtain from these sites; ultimately relying on their medical providers to provide them with accurate information.
However, exposure time with their medical provider is very limited to their routine annual well visit which generally lasts about 20 minutes. This, coupled with youth’s willingness to sit down with medical professionals who are willing to educate them about their health, provides ample opportunities for medical professionals to create programs that will increase exposure time with these young men.
Participants seemed knowledgeable about different STIs, condom use, pregnancy prevention and testing centers, but there is a limited knowledge on HPV disease as well as the HPV vaccine. Though most participants said they have gotten the HPV vaccination, it was unclear if it was the HPV vaccine or just other vaccines in general.
See the full report for the recommendations, based on these observations, for health care providers take into consideration regarding the health needs of young men.
These focus groups provided general insights and overview on the health concerns of AYAM. Overall, there is a promising trend in young men’s action towards their general health care either through seeking out the information themselves or talking to someone who will educate them about their health. Medical providers and other organizations that serve young men need to provide more opportunity for increased exposure time between young men and their medical providers. Finally, the use of technology in promoting health literacy is greatly needed and would prove beneficial to both the young men and the adults serving them.
The HERO Guide and Focus Group Facilitator Guides are two resources developed as part of the Healthy Teen Network Volt initiative to generate energy around AYAM. Volt seeks to increase AYAM knowledge on, access to and utilization of primary care, sexual and reproductive, and other health services. If you’d like to conduct a focus group of your own, check out our Focus Group Facilitator Guide, a resource to support organizations that wish to learn more about the health and wellness concerns of the AYAM.
About the Author
Gina Desiderio, Healthy Teen Network Director of Communications, has over 10 years of capacity-building and project management experience, supporting professionals to provide programs and services to empower youth to thrive.