Breaking away from the medical model: perceptions of health and health care in suburban Sydney youth

Carolyn H. Kefford*, Lyndal J. Trevena, Simon M. Willcock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To identify perceptions of health, health concerns, and health service needs among young people in a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales. Design: Qualitative study using focus groups. Setting: Berowra, a geographically isolated suburb on the outskirts of Sydney, between December 2002 and April 2003. Participants: 40 Berowra residents aged 14-24 years, recruited from two local government high schools (two groups), a local youth drop-in centre (one group), and the community, through advertising at the youth centre, local schools and church groups (one group). Results: Focus group findings were classified into four broad themes. 1: Personal safety is a primary health concern. Berowra needs more recreational facilities to prevent drug and alcohol use related to boredom. 2: Health is more about quality of life than disease and illness. 3: Most health information comes from sources other than health providers. Health education must enable young people to make wise choices for the future. 4: Access to health services is of concern. More education is required on how Medicare works. Young people need to trust their service provider and will only see a doctor if they perceive themselves to be severely ill. Young people value meeting general practitioners in the school and community setting and not just in the doctor's consulting room. Conclusions: Young people desire a whole lifestyle approach to health rather than the traditional model based on diagnosis and disease. Health information needs to be accessible anonymously, and healthy lifestyles need to be promoted throughout the whole community, using youth workers and sporting leaders as role models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-421
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


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