Open Access Research article

Trust, negotiation, and communication: young adults’ experiences of primary care services

Antoinette Davey*, Anthea Asprey, Mary Carter and John L Campbell

Author Affiliations

Primary Care Research Group, University of Exeter Medical School, St Lukes Campus, Smeall Building, Magdalen Road, Exeter EX1 2 LU, UK

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BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:202  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-202

Published: 30 December 2013



Young adulthood is an important transitional period during which there is a higher risk of individuals engaging in behaviours which could have a lasting impact on their health. Research has shown that young adults are the lowest responders to surveys about healthcare experiences and are also the least satisfied with the care they receive. However, the factors contributing to this reduced satisfaction are not clear. The focus of our research was to explore the needs and experiences of young adults around healthcare services with an aim of finding out possible reasons for lower satisfaction.


Twenty young adults were interviewed at GP surgeries and at a local young adult advice agency, exploring their experiences and use of primary care services. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.


The use of primary care services varied amongst the young adult interviewees. Many interviewees reported positive experiences; those who did not linked their negative experiences to difficulties in negotiating their care with the health care system, and reported issues with trust, and communication difficulties. Most of the interviewees were unaware of the use of patient surveys to inform healthcare planning and delivery and were not inclined to take part, mainly because of the length of surveys and lack of interest in the topic area.


In order to effectively address the health needs of young adults, young adults need to be educated about their rights as patients, and how to most efficiently use primary care services. GPs should be alert to effective means of approaching and handling the healthcare needs of young adults. A flexible, varied approach is needed to gathering high quality data from this group in order to provide services with information on the changes necessary for making primary care services more accessible for young adults.

Young adults; Primary care; Communication; Trust; Negotiation; Satisfaction