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Do European Union countries adequately address the healthcare needs of adolescents in the area of sexual reproductive health and rights?

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Author: Michaud, P.A. · Visser, A. · Vervoort, J.P.M. · Kocken, P. · Reijneveld, S.A. · Blair, M. · Rigby, M. · Weber, M. · Jansen, D.
Source:Archives of Disease in Childhood, Epub 18 June
Identifier: 867677
doi: doi:10.1136/archdischild-2019-317073
Keywords: Healthcare · Adolescents · Europe · Sexual reproductive health · Adult · Child health · Clinical article · Confidentiality · Emergency contraception · European Union · Female · Health care need · Human · Human experiment · Iceland · Norway · Oral contraception · Pregnancy · Primary medical care · Questionnaire · Reproductive health · Switzerland · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living


Background and objectives Adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are of particular relevance given their potential short-term or long-term health consequences. This study evaluates recommendations and policies regarding access to care in this area in 31 European countries (European Union (EU) plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). Methods As part of the EU funded Models of Child Health Appraised project, data were gathered using a 43-item questionnaire sent to experts responsible for collecting information in each country. Results Ten countries have not developed any formal policy or recommendation that guarantee the respect of confidentiality and the possibility of consulting a physician without parents knowing. Nearly half of the countries do not have centres specialised in adolescent healthcare, tackling comprehensive health issues or focusing specifically on SRH. Access to emergency contraception and information regarding pregnancy, including testing, is easy in most countries. However, oral contraception is delivered free of charge in only 10 countries. Twenty-three countries do not meet current standards in terms of providing policy-based pregnancy care, and only 13 have set up special programmes for pregnant adolescents. In only seven countries can adolescents definitely have their pregnancy terminated without their parents knowing (and in another seven countries in selected situations). Conclusion The provision and availability of adolescent-friendly SRHR care are far from optimal in around half of the surveyed countries. These results call for the review and implementation of policies, specialised healthcare centres and training initiatives for primary care providers.