Journal of Professional Nursing

Young tertiary students and help-seeking for health advice

Lesley Batten, RN, PhD, Senior Researcher, School of Public Health, Massey University
Jane Dutton, RN, MN, Primary Health Nurse, UCOL Health Centre (Whanganui)

Reference:  Batten, L., & Dutton, J. (2011). Young tertiary students and help-seeking for health advice. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 27(3), 31-42.


Help-seeking is an active process used by people of all ages to obtain assistance to solve problems. This research sought to investigate a component of help-seeking related to health concerns. A health related help-seeking model, was adapted to frame questions for an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire. Seventy-five students aged between 16 and 24 years responded and data were analysed using content and descriptive statistical techniques. Findings indicated that young people perceived the need to seek advice when unwell, needing support or information, are resourceful, and were motivated to seek help from a variety of sources. Parents and whānau formed one usual source of advice, but young people reported one of the best sources of advice as General Practice nurses and doctors. Barriers to seeking advice included distrusting sources, and concerns about confidentiality. Unsurprisingly, many respondents used the Internet for health information, although some mistrusted that information. Nurses need to be aware of the sources of health advice and support that young people choose to use. Motivations for selecting services, providers, or sources clearly replicated what young people hold as important – sources with which they feel comfortable, have a relationship, trust, and which they perceived as maintaining confidentiality.

young people, help-seeking, health advice, survey, Barker’s model

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