Summary of report content
Healthwatch Cornwall was funded by EPIC, an eHealth Productivity and Innovation organisation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to find out young people’s experiences and preferences for accessing health and social care information and support. The work was part of a project exploring the feasibility of developing or adapting a digital product to support the health and wellbeing of young people in Cornwall.
This report describes results from 3 focus groups with 16 young people and a survey of 290 students at college freshers’ fairs across Cornwall in September 2019. Young people were asked similar questions in both the focus groups and survey about their health priorities, their experiences of using online tools to access health and social care information and support, their preferences and their suggestions for online tools.
The main health priority for the young people who took part in the research was mental health (77%). Drugs and alcohol were the most important concerns for 28% of 16 to 17 year olds. Sexual health was not raised as a concern in the focus groups and only 4% of young people in the survey felt health and wellbeing education (including sexual health education) was their most important concern.
Online tools are used to get help and advice about their health and wellbeing by 72% of young people in the survey. The NHS website and Google search engine are the most common online tools used.
Ease of use, ease of access and reliability of information were common themes that came up in both the focus groups and the survey when young people were asked what they liked most about the online tools they use
Common dislikes of online tools included poor presentation of information, unreliable information, their impersonal nature and ‘imprecise’, untailored advice.
When young people in the survey were asked to choose their preference, accessing health information via a website or phone app was the preferred option for 59% of young people, whereas 38% prefer a face to face visit with a health professional.
Young people highly valued reliable sources of information (97% of young people in the survey rated reliable and trustworthy information as ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important), but 37% of those using online tools did not know whether the information they are accessing is reliable.
There were two recommendations – one about including the opportunity to interact with medical professionals and provide local signposting information in the app, and the other about the need to mental health education and support in Cornwall.