Addressing Organizational Barriers to Adolescent Access to High-Quality Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

Adolescents face a number of barriers to accessing high-quality, confidential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Although federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), a type of community health center (CHC), are a critical source of health care for medically underserved adolescents, they often lack the capacity and resources to provide specialized SRH services to adolescents.

In this article, we describe the development and implementation of an initiative aimed at improving an FQHC’s capacity to provide high-quality confidential SRH services to adolescents. For this initiative, a team of clinical and quality improvement staff developed a set of six strategies to improve adolescent SRH services at an FQHC: (1) building community relationships and galvanizing internal organizational support to improve adolescent access to confidential SRH services, (2) developing a long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) program, (3) training clinic staff on SRH and adolescent health topics, (4) adapting the adolescent patient workflow to improve SRH service delivery during appointments, (5) updating and implementing a universal adolescent health assessment tool, and (6) developing billing and registration policies that allow adolescents to receive confidential SRH services. We identified several factors that we believe were key to the successful implementation of our approach in other CHC settings, including encouraging cross-sector collaboration and community focus, providing training as a tool to engage and empower staff as agents of change, involving interdisciplinary staff, piloting on a small scale, and establishing consistent meetings with a clinic champion and improvement team.

Brandt CM, Shire MA, Wilson G, Ito K. Addressing Organizational Barriers to Adolescent Access to High-Quality, Low-Cost, Confidential Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in a Community Health Center. Health Promotion Practice. 2021 Jan 15:1524839920985505.

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