Understanding the sexual health information needs and preferences of “hard to reach” young people.
Background- The purpose of this research was to understand the needs and preferences of young people who are labelled as “hard to reach” when it comes to the delivery of sexual\ud health information. Up to this point, most research has taken the form of needs’ assessment, or service or outcome evaluations; thus it has had a predominantly practical,\ud problem-solution focus. This qualitative study was theoretically informed by and focused on achieving a deeper level of understanding by exploring the phenomenon under investigation rather than reporting on existing situations and offering solutions to problems. \ud Method- Semi-structured interviews were carried out in London with 23 young people from both genders who were peer educators (11) and professionals (15) who were responsible for the design and delivery of the information to NEET young people.\ud Main findings: Analysis of data showed that young peoples perceived needs for sexual health information was different to what the providers thought. Even peer educators, who were young people themselves and from the same socioeconomic backgrounds seemed to have different views from the ‘hard to reach’. This could be that their social mobilization to become peer educators distanced them from the group they are serving. Their perceptions were more similar to the professionals than young people. The young people’s perceptions of their needs fell into three categories: need for a significant other, need for help and need for information.\ud This study sheds light on a marginalised group of young people who have not been studied before in such depth; it challenges the use of the label ‘hard to reach’ and offers a critique of current policy approaches. The thesis concludes with some recommendations, for research, policy, and practice with the aim of developing a more responsive service for young people.