132 Annual Meeting Logo - Go to APHA Meeting Page  
APHA Logo - Go to APHA Home Page

Finding the words: A qualitative study with four key audiences in shaping policies on youth and STDs

Joan R. Cates, MPH, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 416 Nottingham Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27517, 919-843-5793, joancates@unc.edu

Background: One of two U.S. youth will acquire a sexually transmitted disease (STD) by the age of 25. Parents, health care counselors, policymakers, and youth can help to shape policies to address this problem. Objective: Describe and analyze attitudes held by members of key groups on: (1) why the epidemic of STDs in youth has occurred, (2) what needs to change and which groups can effect change, and (3) what role the media have played and should play. Methods: Eight focus groups of 5-9 participants each (total N = 61) were conducted with key audiences: (1) youth 15-18 and 19-24 years old, (2) parents of youth 10-14 and 15-19 years old, (3) health care providers, youth counselors, and clergy, and (4) advocates working with national policymakers. Discussions explored the reasons for the spread of STDS in youth and recommendations for change at individual, family, community, and societal levels. Participants also reacted to current STD prevention media messages. Transcripts were coded to identify concepts and linkages.Results: The four audiences shared some, but not all, opinions about why the epidemic of STDs in youth has occurred and what policy solutions might help to reduce the risk of infection. Participants thought that the media are both helpful and hurtful in preventing the spread of STDs, and that parents are often conflicted about whether to seek more control over their children or ask for help.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the close of this session, participants will be able to

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Reproductive Health of Young People: U.S. and International Viewpoints

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA