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Original research
Exposure and attitudes to adolescent health amongst Paediatric trainees in Northern Ireland: a mixed-methods study
  1. Stephen Mullen1,
  2. Michael D Shields2,
  3. Dara O'Donoghue3,4
  1. 1 Paediatric Emergency Department, The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  3. 3 Department of Child Health, Centre for Medical Education, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  4. 4 Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stephen Mullen; drsmullen{at}


Aims To determine the exposure and attitudes of paediatric trainees towards adolescent medicine.

Methods All paediatric trainees in the Northern Ireland deanery (n=107) were invited to participate in an online survey in March 2016. The questionnaire was based on the ‘Modified Perceptions of Adolescent Issues and Resources: Care of Adolescents’ questionnaire. The questions included a 5-point Likert scale (1-strongly disagree, 5-strongly agree) as well as open questions. All paediatric trainees were invited to attend focus groups to expand on themes generated from the questionnaire.

Results The response rate for the paediatric survey was 62% (n=66). Trainees identified adolescence as an area of importance similar to paediatrics and neonates; however, knowledge, confidence, skills and previous teaching in adolescent medicine were lower than for neonatal medicine and general paediatrics. Trainees who saw ≥6 adolescent patients per week were more likely to rate the importance of adolescent medicine higher. Trainees’ perceived confidence, knowledge, self-rated skills and prior teaching in adolescent medicine were strongly correlated. Most (70%) respondents stated that they had not attended an adolescent transition clinic during their postgraduate training. Undergraduate and postgraduate teaching for adolescent health was rated poorly.

Conclusions This project identified a paediatric trainee population that are aware of the importance of adolescent health but with low perceived knowledge, skills and confidence to manage them. Education is required to enhance learning and improve outcomes for adolescent patients.

  • adolescent health
  • general paediatrics
  • accident & emergency
  • paediatric practice

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  • Contributors SM developed and lead on this project, authoring the manuscript. MS performed data analysis and contributed to the final manuscript. DO supervised the project and contributed to the final manuscript.Implications and contribution: Paediatric trainees are aware of the importance of but feel unprepared to deal with adolescent patients; Paediatric trainees in Northern Ireland rate their undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in adolescent health as poor; Paediatric trainees in Northern Ireland feel that adolescents would be optimally managed by a paediatrician with a specialist interest in adolescent health.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by Queen’s University Belfast School of Medicine and Dentistry Research Ethics Committee (SMDBS Research Ethics Number: 15.13v2).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Data is held by SM and obtained by emailing on request.

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