Young people are more likely to use sexual health services if they can access them in schools, according to research being presented today at the Royal College of Nursing's 2009 International Research Conference in Cardiff.
Dr Debra Salmon, Reader in Community Health at the University of West England, will be presenting the evaluation of a pilot scheme which took place at 16 schools in the Neighbourhood Renewal Area of Bristol.
The nurse-led drop-in sexual health clinics proved popular with "hard to reach" groups, including boys and vulnerable young people who would not otherwise have received advice.
The evaluation reported high levels of satisfaction with the service and also found that young people are attending for information prior to their first sexual intercourse and were using the broad range of services provided, including contraception, STI testing and advice about relationships and delaying sex.
Commenting on the scheme, Dr Salmon said:
"Sixty-one percent of the young people we surveyed said they attended because it was at school and easy to access and that they would not have attended alternative provision. Providing convenient, accessible services is a great way of ensuring young people have access to the necessary sexual health advice. "
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said:
"The role school nurses can play in reducing the shocking rate of teenage pregnancy and in raising awareness about sexual health issues cannot be underestimated.
"This evaluation provides further tangible evidence of the immense value they offer. It is crucial that sufficient funding is allocated to increase the numbers of school nurses if we are to beat the rising numbers of STIs and teenage pregnancies."
The 2009 RCN International Nursing Research Conference is taking place in Cardiff from 24–27 March.
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Useful updates as undertaking SCPHN MSc and involved in no worries pilot" - Judith Foster, Calderdale PCT
"I am a school nurse in the east end of Glasgow where child protection places a geat demand on school nursing caseloads. I thoroughly enjoy talking to pupils and advising them about sexual health issues, but sadly we are being pulled in too many other directions to sustain class work with young people. I would absolutely love to dedicate time to this type of work but more staff would be needed to support this locally." - Penny Roberts, Glasgow
"The research about young people in schools accessing information and raising awareness about sexual health is absolutely spot-on. Doctors surgeries are another source of useful advice and information." - Morel D' Souza, Kent
"I couldn't agree more! That's why hundreds of school nurses have benefited by undertaking the RCN accredited "Sexual Health Skills" course, now run totally online by the University of Greenwich (020 8331 firstname.lastname@example.org). Recruiting NOW for April 14 start date (discounted at £400)." - David Evans, University of Greenwich
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