One in three young women feel unable to tell GP ‘sensitive’ health concerns
National campaign to empower young women on thier own well-being
Terri Levine, Eiméar Savage and Shauna Kelly talking about young women’s access to health services at the National Women’s Council of Ireland offices in Parnell Square, Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller
One third of young women feel they cannot discuss sensitive health issues with their doctor while half don’t know what is confidential between them and their doctor, a study published today finds.
Based on a survey of 350 women aged between 17 and 25, conducted in August, the study also finds three-quarters of respondents would be reluctant to go to the doctor, hospital or other clinic because of cost, while 80 per cent would not know how to make a complaint about a doctor, nurse or hospital if they felt they had been treated badly.
The study was conducted by the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s youth initiative, the Y-factor, which was founded in February to give a platform to the voices of young women.
As well as publishing the survey results today, the Y-factor is launching a health information and support campaign aimed specifically at young women, timed to mark the second UN international “Day of the Girl”.
There will be an online presence and a number of information events hosted by the Y-factor as part of the Your Health Matters campaign.
Shauna Kelly (23), one of the founder members of the Y-factor, says a particular driver for the campaign was that young women had particular health needs and, as evidenced in the survey, many neither knew where to get information nor felt confident about their rights when accessing it.
“Society expects young women to be all-knowing, to take responsibility and yet the survey shows a lack of autonomy. A lot of young women don’t feel they have the power to make their own decisions.”
There is a lack of an information “bridge” between being a child female and an adult woman, says Terri Levine (23).
“The information needs to be accessible in a way that young women can get it without risking feeling embarrassed or silly for not knowing everything already.”
And young women do have particular needs for health information, says Ms Kelly. “Of course, young men have health issues, but for young women health is often seen in negative terms, as embarrassing or a crisis. Responsibility is thrust on women in a way it’s not on men, but without the information.
“We want to provide the information and encourage young women to look for it, to discuss their health and their rights and in a way that it’s not taboo and it’s not embarrassing.”
Among the health issues addressed in the Y-factor leaflets and sites are eating disorders, bullying, sexual assault, and contraception.