Mental Distress and Psychotropic Drug Use among Young People, and Public Health Nurses` Conceptions of Their Roles
Sammanfattning: Aim: The overall aim of this thesis was to study mental distress, health and lifestyle habits, social factors and psychotropic drug use by young people, and how PHNs conceive their roles in relation to this.Methods: Quantitative and qualitative methods were used. Study I included data from the Norwegian Youth Health Study (NYHS, 11 620 participants, aged 15-16 years) (2000–2003) linked to the Norwegian Prescription Database (NorPD) (2004–2009). Study II included prescription data on psychotropic drugs among 15-16 year olds from the NorPD (2006–2010). Eight young people were interviewed and qualitative content analysis was used to analyse the data (III). Study IV included interviews with 20 Public Health Nurses (PHN), and was analysed using a phenomenographic approach.Main results: Mental distress was reported among 15.5% of the adolescents non-users of psychotropic drugs, 75% of whom were girls. In both genders reporting mental distress, incident psychotropic use was higher one to nine years, up to 27.7% among girls, as compared with the rest of the participants. In addition, health, lifestyle habits and social factors were associated with incident use (I). Psychotropic drug use increased during 2006–2010, hypnotics and melatonin accounted for most of the increase. In total, 16.4% of all incident psychotropic drug users in 2007 were still having prescriptions dispensed in 2010 (II). Young people experience both beneficial and undesired effects from psychotropic drugs. Access to professional support and follow-up was experienced as insufficient. Life with family, friends, school and work was influenced by psychotropic drug use, and they were afraid of being lonely and stigmatized (III). The PHNs conceived their roles in relation to young people as; the discovering PHNs who became aware of psychotropic drug use in the health dialogues and chose either to act or not to act in relation to this. Those PHNs who took action continued to be the cooperating PHNs who cooperated with the young people, their families, schools, and others. If cooperation was established, the supporting PHNs teach and support the young people in relation to psychotropic drug use (IV).Conclusions: Attention must be paid to poor mental health and increasing psychotropic drug use by young people. Advances in knowledge, treatment and follow-up are needed. The prevalence of mental distress among young people, with differences between the genders, as well as between socioeconomic groups, should have consequences for health promotion strategies. PHNs in Norway, working in health centres and schools, have responsibility and opportunity to identify and follow-up young people with mental health problems.
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