The following is a written interview that explored the conversation between a young woman who was about to venture off to college and her healthcare provider. Her answers are insightful: what might make conversations between a young person and a healthcare provider more effective?
Q: Tell me about the first time your healthcare provider spoke to you about the topic of sexual health. Who brought it up first – you or your provider? Why was it brought up? How old were you?
A: For several years my doctor had asked me if I was sexually active, but he always asked me while a parent was in the room, and I felt uncomfortable telling the truth. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that a nurse practioner talked to me about my own sexual health in private.
Q: What was the setting of the conversation? Who spoke with you? ? Did you feel comfortable? How long did the conversation last?
A: The nurse and I were both in the exam room, and she asked my mom to leave, so she could ask me some questions. She was very funny, and I felt comfortable answering her questions. The conversation was probably around 5-10 minutes long, but she covered a lot of different topics.
Q: Did you find the advice helpful? Were you already familiar with the information that was shared with you?
A: I found the advice really helpful. I was suprised by how little I knew. The nurse told me information that was new and surprising.
Q: Do you recall the information that was shared with you? Was it relevant to you in particular, or did it feel like a generic conversation? Was there an opportunity to ask questions?
A: Most of the information we discussed I was familiar with, but she also shared some things I had never though about.
For example, she advised me not to share razors with my friends in order to avoid the spread of HIV. All of the information about sex, health, drinking and other topics she covered was very relevant to me at the time. Although she did ask if I had any questions at the end, I didn’t ask any. I wish I would have.
Q: Was it a positive experience? Shaming? Is there anything that would have made the conversation more effective?
A: It was definetly a positive experience. The nurse never made me feel shameful. The thing that made the conversation most effective was the privacy. I could ask or say anything to the nurse, and I knew it would stay in the exam room.
Please encourage the young person in your life to check out our brand new blog on Tumblr geared for adolescents: TeenWorldAnonymous.