Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist September 2012 Contents Australian Pharmacist September 2012 I © Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
1. Health risk behaviours:
a) are associated with improved physical,
social, or psychological outcomes.
b) reduce the risk of mental health
disorders including depression and
c) are activities that people perform to
protect their health.
d) are often established in adolescence
and continue into adulthood.
2. Which of the following is an example
of a health risk behaviour?
b) Unprotected sex.
d) All of the above.
3. Which of the following is a risk
factor for poor health outcomes in
a) Parental control and supervision.
b) Good academic performance.
c) Peer antisocial behaviour.
d) Socio-economic advantage.
4. Pharmacists can play an important
role in adolescent health promotion
a) listening to young peoples’ health
concerns and building rapport.
b) opportunistically screening young
people for health risk behaviours.
c) facilitating referral and/or linkage to
‘youth-friendly’ treatment or support
d) All of the above.
to reduce the risks associated with
behaviours despite not necessarily
altering the prevalence of the
behaviour (e.g. reducing the risk of
STI transmission by using condoms,
rather than promoting abstinence).7
Pharmacists can opportunistically
screen for risky sexual behaviours
during interactions with young people
in the pharmacy (e.g. during supply
of emergency contraception, or other
• Preventing alcohol-related harm in
young people – there are potential
opportunities for pharmacists to identify
risky drinking behaviour in young
people, and provide brief advice and
alcohol education. The Identification
and Brief Advice (IBA) screening tools9
have been used by pharmacists in the
UK to identify people with hazardous
and harmful patterns of alcohol
consumption. They are useful screening
tools which could be adapted for use in
an Australian setting to target high risk
groups in the community (i.e. those at
increased risk of harm from alcohol or at
risk of alcohol misuse) including young
people. (Australian guidelines for alcohol
consumption are at: www.alcohol.gov.au/
To ensure pharmacy services are
youth-friendly and meet the needs of
young people, pharmacists and pharmacy
staff need to be competent in dealing with
youth health issues and sensitive to the
needs of young people. Pharmacy staff
need to be adequately trained to respond
to young people in a respectful, non-
judgemental way. They also need to be
capable of recognising differences among
young people in terms of gender, age,
culture and ethnicity, and be prepared to
adjust their responses to those differences
As well as appropriately trained staff,
a private consultation area in the pharmacy
will help to reassure young people that
their privacy and confidentiality will be
maintained, and thus encourage them to
speak freely. In order to facilitate referral,
pharmacy services also need to be
integrated with other local services and
care pathways. Having educational material
on hand and available to take home is also
important as young people may prefer
to learn about sensitive issues on their
own. Young people may not retain all the
information provided during a face-to-face
session because they are distracted or feel
uncomfortable; written information can
help to reinforce verbal counselling.
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Young Australians:
their health and wellbeing 2011. Cat. no. PHE 140. Canberra:
2. Carr-Green MRC, Enderby KC, Grover SR. Risk-taking behaviour
of young women in Australia: screening for health-risk
behaviours. Med J Aust. 2003;178(12):601–4.
3. NSW Centre for the advancement of adolescent health (CAAH).
Adolescent Health GP Resource Kit. 2nd edn. 2008. At: www.
4. DiClemente RJ, Santelli JS, Crosby RA. Adolescent health –
understanding and preventing risk behaviours. San Francisco:
John Wiley; 2009.
5. Risk taking by young people [revised Dec 2009]. 4102.0 –
Australian Social Trends, 2008. At: www.abs.gov.au
6. Wolfe DA, Jaffe PG, Crooks CV. Adolescent risk behaviours –
why teens experiment and strategies to keep them safe. New
Haven: Yale University Press; 2006.
7. Toumbourou JW, Patton GC, Sawyer S, et al. Evidence-based
interventions for promoting adolescent health. Parkville, Aust:
Centre for Adolescent Health; 2000.
8. Strasburger VC, Brown RT, Braverman PK, et al. Adolescent
Medicine – a handbook for primary care. Philadelphia:
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006.
9. Neilson E, ed. Community pharmacy and alcohol-misuse
services: a review of policy and practice. London: Royal
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain; 2008.
Take home message
Risk-taking behaviour is central to
the onset of major adolescent health
problems, particularly mental health
disorders.3 Many risk (and protective)
behaviours that originate in childhood
and adolescence continue into
adulthood and are strong predictors of
adult health and wellbeing.
Adolescent health promotion
activities can help to reduce health
risk behaviours, enhance protective
factors, and prevent adverse health
outcomes associated with risk-taking
behaviour in young people.
Health professionals, including
pharmacists, can help to identify
health risk behaviours and any
emerging symptoms of depression
in young people. There are also
opportunities for community
pharmacies to deliver health
promotion messages targeting young
people, and to refer at-risk adolescents
to appropriate services.
Prevention and early intervention
through screening and risk assessment
are necessary to minimise the health
and social consequences of risky
behaviours in young people.
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