Health and lifestyles of family planning attenders in Glasgow – why a
holistic approach is necessary
J. Cumming, A. Bigrigg
The Sandyford Initiative, Glasgow, UK
Background: It is well recognised that poverty adversely affects
health and wellbeing. Glasgow City contains 75% of the most deprived postcode
sectors in Scotland and has one of the poorest health records in Western Europe.
67% of the community based family planning clinics in Glasgow are based in these
areas of severe deprivation. It is therefore assumed that clients attending
these clinics will have greater health and social needs than those attending
clinics in less deprived areas.
Aims: To ascertain information on the health, social circumstances and
lifestyles of family planning attenders in Glasgow in order to identify health
and social needs with a view to improving service provision and providing a
social model of health care to all clients.
Method: A self-administered questionnaire was offered to all clients
attending the community based clinics and a smaller number attending the central
city based clinic over a one-week period in 2002.
Results: Questionnaires were completed by 624 clients of whom 580
attended the community clinics (response rate 89%). The majority of clients were
female, Caucasian, under the age of 35 (73%) and unmarried (68%). The majority
had children (52%) and 19% lived alone with their children. Several areas of
health need were identified: Smoking: 43% of clients smoke, domestic abuse: 16%
of clients had experienced domestic abuse and 61% of those had never sought
help, debt: 27% of all clients had concerns regarding debt, mental health: 33%
of clients had attended their GP with anxiety or depression and 9% were
currently taking antidepressants and weight: 51% were unhappy with their weight
with 88% of these clients considering themselves overweight. Some clinics
demonstrated considerably higher prevalences of smoking, domestic abuse and
anxiety/depression than the average.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that there are clearly unmet
health and social needs among women attending family planning clinics in Glasgow.
We must attempt to address these issues as they will impact on clients’ sense
of wellbeing and ultimately their sexual health. This has implications for the
appropriate targeting of resources and the appropriate training of staff to
enable them to confidently address these issues.