“Fostering Autonomy” for Adolescents to Access Health Services: A Need for Clarifications

“Fostering Autonomy” for Adolescents to Access Health Services: A Need for Clarifications
Commentary
Julien Brisson, Vardit Ravitsky, Bryn Williams-Jones
Journal of Adolescent Health, 1 June 2021; 68(6) pp 1038-1039
Excerpt
The global health literature studying adolescent health issues has shown that adolescents are among the groups that least use health services despite having serious health-related needs [[1]]. To help promote adolescent health, the World Health Organization’s Global Accelerate Action for the Health of Adolescents advocates implementing measures to “foster the autonomy” of adolescents to access health services ([[2]], p.93). The argument is persuasive: protect the well-being of adolescents. However, there are significant challenges to understanding what is actually meant by “fostering autonomy” and the possible or necessary steps required for adolescents to be able to both choose and have access to health services. For example, fostering autonomy could entail the development of decision-making skills (e.g., knowing how, when, and where to access health services) or the implementation of enabling policies to make health services more accessible for adolescents, such as removing financial or geographic barriers that impede access…

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