Confidentiality Concerns, Money Prevent California Teens From Accessing Family Planning Services
Many California teens encounter "significant barriers" to family planning services, according to a "snapshot" study by the "Get Real About Teen Pregnancy" public education campaign, sponsored by the California Wellness Foundation. The most common barriers are confidentiality concerns, community attitudes that "disapprove" of teen access to such services and a "perceived lack" of affordable services, the report concludes. The statewide survey was commissioned after several organizations, among them the CDC and Alan Guttmacher Institute, found contraceptive use among teens to be a "major contributor" to the national decline in teen pregnancies, in an effort to identify "real or perceived barriers" to health and contraceptive services. The Communications Sciences Group and Philliber Research Associates conducted interviews with the staffs of 60 community clinics and health care providers in 14 California counties to obtain information about services offered and barriers to care. Concern about confidentiality topped the list of barriers, with clinic staff members saying teens fear being seen by an adult community member "who may not approve of them seeking reproductive health care." Seventy-one percent of the clinics surveyed do not offer separate office hours for teens and 87% do not offer separate locations for teenagers. Over one-third of clinics cited "community attitudes" as a barrier to teen access, and at least one clinic was "forced" to cease offering services at a local high school due to opposition from area residents.
"Adults often criticize teens for being irresponsible and not thinking of their future," Gary Yates, president and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation, said. "However, sexually active teenagers that seek contraceptives are demonstrating responsible behavior. We should support them by ensuring that they have the access to and information about reproductive health care and contraceptives," he said. Cost was another "significant barrier" for teens. Seventy percent of clinics surveyed reported that "inadequate state reimbursement and rising medical costs" sometimes prevent them from providing teens with low-cost or free services. The complete report is available at http://www.letsgetreal.org ("Get Real About Teen Pregnancy" release, 2/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.