Adolescents' Views on Barriers to Health Care: A Pilot Study

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25 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine from adolescents using health care their: 1) perceptions of barriers to obtaining health services, 2) views on how to overcome the barriers and 3) views on how to create an adolescent-friendly primary care practice. Design: Six focus group interviews. Methods: Adolescents 11-21 years old from three health centers in the Bronx were recruited. Main Outcome Measures: 1) barriers to accessing health care such as insurance, language barriers, transportation, making an appointment; 2) identifying barriers related to issues of consent and confidentiality; 3) exploring barriers to accessing mental health and related issues; and 4) their visions of an adolescent-friendly office. Results: Thirty-one adolescents, aged 11-21 years old, participated. The majority were Hispanic and 52% were female. Fifty percent of adolescents had a routine visit within the past month. Most adolescents reported experiencing barriers to making an appointment. Additionally, they complained about long waiting times to be seen by providers on the day of their scheduled appointment. Another key barrier was related to knowledge and perceptions about consent and confidentiality. Further, in regard to mental health, many adolescents from focus groups reported that they felt that their primary providers had little interest in this topic and limited knowledge about it. Most of the adolescents reported no barriers with insurance, language or transportation. Their visions of an adolescent-friendly office would include a separate adolescent waiting area equipped with entertainment units. Conclusion: In this study of adolescents who already have primary care providers and are seemingly well-connected to the health care system, there remained significant reported barriers to accessing necessary health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-103
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • access to health care
  • adolescents
  • health barriers
  • knowledge and perceptions of confidential care
  • mental health
  • preventive care topics
  • teen-friendly practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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