Purpose To determine young adults' self-assessment of health knowledge and the preventive services received from health care providers.
Methods Participants: Matriculating freshmen at a historically black university during the fall of 2003. Study Design: Confidential cross-sectional survey. Level of knowledge on health issues was measured by 7 items, α = 0.75. Preventive service use experience was measured by the question, “Has a doctor or clinic staff EVER discussed with you… 10 different health issues.
Results 653 participants (mean age 18.5 ± 1.1 years) completed the survey; 56% females; 96% African American. 93% had seen a doctor within the last year, 76% within the last 6 months. 52% reported their last medical visit was for a check-up. 34.7% assessed their knowledge on diet/proper eating on health as high; 50.2% high knowledge of the effect of alcohol on health. STD/HIV prevention knowledge was reported as high by 81.4%; high pregnancy prevention knowledge was reported by 66.9%. 60% were aware of their BP and 75% knew their cholesterol level. Over two-thirds reported being counseled on STD prevention (73%), HIV prevention (73%), healthy foods and healthy eating (69%). 61% had received counseling on pregnancy prevention. Approximately half of those surveyed reported discussions about tobacco use (54%), alcohol use (55%), marijuana and other illegal drug use (55%). Less than half received counseling on injury prevention (45%) and depression (34%) or were offered HIV testing (44%). Females were more likely to report receipt of counseling on pregnancy prevention (p < .0001; 74% vs. 43%), HIV prevention (p < .0001; 79% vs. 65%), STD prevention (p = .002; 77% vs. 67%), and depression (p = .02; 40% vs. 28%). Females were also more likely to have been offered HIV testing (p < .0001; 52% vs. 33%). Individuals who had received counseling on STD prevention (p = .0002), HIV prevention (p = .02) and pregnancy prevention (p < .0001) were more likely to report high knowledge on these items.
Conclusions Adolescents and young adults receive suboptimal preventive services and screening, with male adolescents reporting significantly less exposure to reproductive health services than females. Efforts are needed to improve preventive service delivery to both female and male adolescents. Young adults' knowledge on health issues will likely improve with better preventive service delivery.