Background The views of primary health care providers concerning their willingness to consult with under-16-year-old adolescent patients without the presence of a parent or guardian are not well documented. Many young people believe they have to be aged over 16 years to see their general practitioner (GP) alone. Confidentiality is a major concern for young people. It is important that more is known about the willingness of GPs and practice nurses (PNs) to offer unaccompanied consultations without known parental consent.
Aim To provide information on the willingness of GPs and PNs to consult with under-16-year-olds and whether policies exist in general practices to facilitate access by unaccompanied under-16-year-olds.
Study design Cross-sectional study using a postal questionnaire.
Setting Seventeen general practices in the West of Cornwall.
Method All GPs, PNs and receptionists were sent questionnaires.
Results The overall response rate was 79% (166/209 questionnaires). The majority of GPs and PNs (91%) were willing to consult with unaccompanied under-16-year-olds. A substantial number of primary health care team members are not aware of the existence of any practice policy on access. Only 41% of receptionists, 46% of PNs and 38% of GPs were aware of a definite practice policy.
Conclusions GPs and PNs are willing to consult with under-16-year-olds without a parent or guardian being present. Many practices in this region do not appear to have policies in place to guide health professionals on under-16 access issues.
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