The patterns of health need in youth have changed over the last three decades with increasing rates of psychosocial problems compromising adolescent development and affecting the patterns of morbidity and mortality in adult years. This has increased the public health interest in health promotion, early detection and preventive health care for adolescents. Yet, young people report significant barriers to accessing the health care system, and health professionals report a self-perceived lack of competency and prior training in adolescent health, especially in these areas of youth health need. There is an imperative to provide quality professional development for existing health professionals and undergraduates in adolescent health care. This paper will discuss a model of professional knowledge in adolescent health and the evidence-based principles in design and delivery of effective education programmes. It will also review the published evaluations of adolescent education programmes and outcomes that still require evaluation in the future.
Over the past three decades, the patterns of health need in youth have changed. Psychosocial problems such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy, accidental and intentional injury, including suicide, affect youth disproportionately and appear to be increasing.
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