Background There is widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo of health care. However, the priorities seen by youth and their ideas for improvement are rarely sought even though they are the policy makers and consumers of the future.
Method A workshop on health was included in “UBC Connect 2005 - Learning and the World,” a UBC summer camp intended to attract able high school seniors towards higher education. Groups of high school participants were tasked with identifying problems and priorities for domestic and third world health care and proposing strategies for improvement. These data were content coded. Participants completed a questionnaire ranking issues as 1 = strongly agree (SA); 2 = agree (A); 3 = neutral (N); 4 = disagree (D); 5 = strongly disagree (SD).
Results Subjects; 17 participants; 10 grade 10, 5 grade 11, 2 grade 12; 9 female, 8 male. Questions: Shortage of doctors and nurses requires action (16 SA, 1 A); aid worldwide health care strategies (11 SA, 4 A, 1 N, 1 D); involve youth in deciding future care options (7 SA, 10 A); status quo of health care is unacceptable (4 SA, 11 A, 2 N; innovations are required not just repairs (1 SA, 9 A, 5 N, 2 S D), rewarding those who follow healthy lifestyles (15 SA, 1 A, 1 N); legislation to follow proven preventive care (14 SA, 2 A, 1 N); legislation to allow the choice of euthanasia (10 SA, 1 A, 2 N, 2 D, 2 SD); a levy for third world health care in my premium (7 SA, 6 A, 2 N, 2 D); legislation to limit how many children I have (6 SA, 7 A, 2 N, 2 D); legislation for genetic screening in pregnancy (5 SA, 5 A, 3 N, 3 D, 1 SD); a lifetime health credit to be used as I choose (5 SA, 6 A, 6 N); legislation to make organ donation obligatory (4 SA, 7 A, 4 N, 2 D). Issues that need to be urgently addressed are identified in rank order: Domestic: funding and more efficient spending; staff shortages; waiting lists: more medical education places; more rural facilities; support for aging population
Developing world: education; access to basic health care; clean water; medical education; funding and compassion from first world; immunization; staff and facility shortages: HIV
Strategies: promote healthy lifestyle (remove vending machines, ban tobacco, less fast food, motivate to exercise); increase training places MDs and RNs; promote immunization and organ donation; drop-in fees; integrate physicians trained abroad.
Conclusions Youth are aware of, interested in, and informed about the status quo of health care and have valid and novel suggestions. We would do well to engage them.
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