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June 1995

Community Perceptions of Adolescent Health and Sexuality: Results From a Southern Community-Based Project

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Family Medicine (Dr Kolasa) and the Office of the Dean and the Department of Pediatrics (Dr Irons), East Carolina University, School of Medicine, Greenville, NC; the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center and the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC (Dr Homer); the Departments of Sociology (Dr Wilson) and Social Work (Dr Causby), East Carolina University; and the Pitt County, North Carolina, Adolescent Health Project (Dr Black). Dr Black is now at the Office of Health and Physical Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(6):611-614. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170190021003

Objective:  To describe the attitudes about adolescent health issues, especially school-based health services, held by adults in a rural community.

Design:  "Before-after," quasi-experimental design involving independent, cross-sectional population-based surveys in 1989 and 1992.

Setting:  Rural county located in the southeastern United States.

Participants:  Probability sample of adults, 18 years and older, who were residents of the county, including 831 respondents in the first survey and 210 respondents in the second survey.

Intervention:  County-wide public education campaign involving public service announcements on television and radio, newspaper advertisements, posters, and open-to-the-public adolescent health programs and events.

Main Outcome Measures:  Attitudes about the types of health services that should be included in a public school–based adolescent health program.

Results:  Rural adults' attitudes toward public school–based adolescent health services were similar before and after the community-wide campaign. Respondents believed the public schools should provide teenagers with information and counseling on substance abuse, sexual activity, birth control, and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome but should not provide primary health care or birth control products. Most adults believed that sex and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome education should begin before high school.

Conclusions:  A comprehensive, public school–based adolescent health program providing health information but not health services may be acceptable to this community. Adults' attitudes about adolescent health issues do not appear to have been modified by the adolescent health awareness campaign.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:611-614)