Ambulatory care may be relatively underused by this age group for a number of reasons, including limited access to care, lack of health insurance and low self-perceived risk, explained the authors. Young adults are the most likely age group to be uninsured, with nearly one-third lacking medical coverage. The study found that young adults without insurance had one-fourth as many visits as those with insurance.
The prevalence of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), homicide and motor vehicle crashes all peak in young adulthood. Yet the study's findings show that when young adults were offered counseling, which occurred at about one third of all ambulatory care visits, they infrequently received counseling directed at the greatest threats to their health.
The counseling that was offered to young adults was most often concerning exercise and diet, rather than more immediate threats to their health. Young adults have higher rates of tobacco use, alcohol use, illicit drug use and STDs than both adolescents and older adults. The authors wrote that counseling on these issues remained infrequent, despite the fact that counseling has been shown to effectively improve tobacco cessation rates, modify high-risk sexual behaviors and decrease drug abuse.
"Greater awareness is needed among health care providers and policymakers to improve access to care and ensure that young adults receive appropriate preventive services," said Fortuna. "During a time when many risks peak and unhealthy lifestyle habits form, routine medical care and preventive counseling can improve both immediate and long-term health."
To characterize ambulatory medical care among young adults age 20 to 29 years, the researcher
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University of Rochester Medical Center