Abstract: Youth Advisory Boards in Health Care Settings: Perspectives from Health Care Professionals (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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173P Youth Advisory Boards in Health Care Settings: Perspectives from Health Care Professionals

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Melanie Morris, MSSW, Doctoral Student, Boston University, Boston, MA
Astraea Augsberger, PhD, Assistant Professor, Boston University, MA
Katherine Gergen-Barnett, MD, Vice Chair of Primary Care Innovation and Transformation; Program Director in the Department of Family Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: There is a mutually beneficial, multi-directional relationship when youth are engaged in policy, programming, and research. Research shows that there is a great value in youth engagement to the individual, community, and larger institutions. While the positive impact of youth engagement is evident, one key barrier to youth participation is adultism; defined as the negative behaviors and attitudes adults have about young people that can be characterized as interpersonal, institutional, and internalized. This study aims to explore how adult health care professionals at an urban safety-net hospital understand and conceptualize one form of youth engagement known as Youth Advisory Boards (YABs) and their utility in health care settings.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions that addressed the health care providers' understanding and perceptions of YABs and their utility in health care settings were conducted with varied health care professionals (N=10) that included doctors, researchers, and community engagement specialists from an urban safety-net hospital with an expressed investment in place-based community engagement and promotion of health equity. Thematic analysis was conducted on the transcribed interviews to explore the central research question: How do adults understand and conceptualize YABs and their utility in health care settings?

Results: The majority of participants had minimal experience interacting with a YAB in their work however they held a shared understanding of YABs as a group of youth who hold diverse identities and positionalities that are representative of the community in which the hospital serves. The participants also saw YABs as a critical mechanism to promote health equity. They reported the need for hospitals to establish intentional partnerships with youth and provide space for youth to be key stakeholders in influencing research, practice, and policy changes and innovations. While the participants shared the need for and importance of YABs, they also were critical of the barriers that currently exist in health care settings that would prevent YABs from being successful. These barriers included time, sustainable funding, limited experience working with YABs and racialized youth, health care setting readiness, and the need for strong facilitators.

Conclusions and Implications: There is increasing interest by health care professionals to utilize YABs for improvement in practice, policy, and research. However, there is a need to critically examine the ways in which health care settings are ready and able to restructure their infrastructure to intentionally partner with youth. There also is a need for health care professionals to be reflective of their positionality and the role they can play in fostering meaningful relationships with youth. With the proper infrastructure and support, authentic engagement of youth voice in health care settings has the potential to be realized and act as a mechanism for health equity.