Sexual health of adolescent patients admitted to a psychiatric unit



To review sexual health screening practices during admission to an adolescent psychiatry unit.


Retrospective chart review of randomly selected youth admitted over a one-year period (2013). Data extracted included demographics, reasons for admission, sexual health history, as well as any comorbid behaviours noted. The main outcome measure was whether sexual health details were documented at any time during admission; if so, this information was extracted for analysis. Statistical analysis was done using univariate associations and logistic association.


Mean age of subjects (n=99, 79 females and 20 males) was 15.24 years (SD = 1.30). Most common reasons for admission were suicidal gestures/self harm (n=57, 58%) and mood disorders (n=53, 54%). Thirty-seven patients (37%) had sexual health information documented in their charts. No demographic variables were significantly associated with being asked sexual health questions. Patients who had mood disorder diagnoses had 6 times the odds (95%CI: 1.18 to 29.96, P=0.03) of sexual health questions being documented compared to those not diagnosed with mood disorders.


Screening for sexual health concerns is not being documented in the majority of adolescent psychiatry inpatients. Omitting sexual health screening during hospitalizations represents a missed opportunity for investigation and management of sexual health issues in this high-risk group. As many adolescents, particular those struggling with mental illness, do not attend preventative health visits, screening for pregnancy risk and other reproductive health needs is recommended at every adolescent encounter and in all settings.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Megan Harrison

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Mark Norris

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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