Coulee Region, Wisconsin
Caitlyn is a 16-year-old girl who goes to a clinic with her mother for an annual school physical. In preparation for her appointment, she brings a list of questions to discuss with the doctor in private. She understands her rights to confidentiality and knows her mother will be asked to leave the room at some point during the visit. During the one-on-one time with the doctor, Caitlyn opens up about her recent struggles with anxiety and concerns about the relationship with her new boyfriend.
The doctor recommends different options for treatment and resources, and Caitlyn remembers to take notes and ask for clarification when she has questions. She is relieved to have finally talked to someone, knowing she can open up to her mom on her own time. Before she leaves, Caitlyn takes initiative to learn about the clinic’s online system for setting up appointments and messaging her doctor for non-emergency questions.
Managing her health care seemed like a daunting task until Caitlyn attended a PATCH-for-Teens workshop at her high school. It was there that she learned about her legal rights to confidentiality and the importance of having honest conversations with her doctor. She credits PATCH (Providers and Teens Communicating for Health) for preparing her to manage her health care, including knowing where to ask for help, before moving away to college. In a Nutshell
PATCH is an evidence-based promising practice that addresses maternal and child health (MCH) priorities and has been a key component of state-based MCH efforts in Wisconsin. This youth-driven program works to improve adolescent health by educating, engaging, and empowering young people to take control of their own health. Young people are trained to deliver workshops, addressing the three R’s: relationships, rights, and responsibility. PATCH operates in seven sites across four states: Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, and Oklahoma. PATCH in Action
With an aim to improve the communication and overall relationship between adolescents and health care professionals, PATCH offers communities three evidence-based intervention components: the PATCH Teen Educator Model, the PATCH for Providers workshop, and the PATCH for Teens: Peer-to-Peer workshop.
The PATCH Teen Educator Model employs and empowers youth to facilitate PATCH workshops and advocate for change within the community and health care system. They gain the appropriate knowledge and skills through rigorous training to deliver peer education workshops and professional development workshops for health care professionals, as well as to advocate for better adolescent programs and policies in schools, communities, and health care systems.
The PATCH for Providers workshop has been developed as a continuing education opportunity for a wide range of health care professionals, including nurses, doctors, clinicians, medical students or residents, therapists, counselors, pharmacists, social workers, and any other front-end or support staff. In this 90-minute workshop, PATCH Teen Educators share their authentic insights into the health care concerns, preferences, and realities of today’s young people, offering better ways to connect with young patients and ensure high-quality, youth-friendly services.
The 60-minute PATCH for Teens: Peer-to-Peer workshop is led predominately by PATCH teen educators with the assistance and direction of a PATCH site coordinator, and is intended to be delivered outside of a typical school classroom setting (e.g., conferences, youth group meetings, student organizations/clubs, and other places young people gather to learn from one another). The workshop aims to empower young people to learn to manage their own health care and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate and advocate for youth-friendly services. Outcomes
A study of participant data from the Dane County PATCH site, published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal in 2015, showed that Caitlyn’s story is not outside the norm. The study reported significant improvement in the areas of knowledge, self-efficacy, and reported behavioral intentions to seek and provide quality health care for teens and clinicians. Teens exhibited the greatest growth in learning confidentiality policies and the importance of patient/clinician communication.