The Status of Young Women in Scotland 2022 – 2023: Experiences of Accessing Healthcare

The Status of Young Women in Scotland 2022 – 2023:

Experiences of Accessing Healthcare

Published on:
  • Research report

Here you will find our latest research report, exploring young women and people of marginalised genders’* experiences of accessing healthcare in Scotland.

From registering with a medical centre, GP or dentist, to making appointments, to experiences of being treated by and interacting with healthcare professionals, accessing healthcare is a journey.

This report shines a light on young women’s experiences throughout this journey and what needs to change to support them to access the healthcare in Scotland that they need and deserve.

Key findings

This research engaged with over 900 young women and people of marginalised genders* aged 16-30 from across Scotland; with representation from every Scottish local authority and from all of the target ages. This research collected a wide range of findings on issues across the access to healthcare journey. The highest proportion of young women (40%) rated their experiences of accessing healthcare as “okay”. Just under a fifth (17%) rated their experiences as mostly bad and a further 8% rated it as mostly awful. 

Overall, young women struggled to access the healthcare they needed and deserved. The inaccessibility of appointment booking was the most common barrier to young women’s ability to make the appointments they needed.  

We heard from young women who; are working; in education; have caring responsibilities; have long-term or mental health conditions meaning early mornings can be difficult, may struggle to communicate on the phone due to language or neurodivergence, about how these systems do not work for them. Limited NHS resources also made appointments scarcer, with reception staff acting as gatekeepers to healthcare. 

Under a third (30%) of young women said their experience of healthcare was mostly good. Being listened to, heard, believed and validated, were by far the most important features of a positive healthcare experience. Young women appreciated practitioners who showed empathy and genuine care.

Young women make several recommendations relating to alternative ways to access healthcare, which are widespread and standardised across Scotland covering waiting lists, better access to information and signpostingand improved communication between healthcare providers.

*The term “people with marginalised genders’ was used in the recruitment of participants. Although this research was primarily to explore the experiences of young women (cis and trans alike), misogyny in healthcare does not only impact women, and we wanted to ensure everyone with relevant experiences, such as trans men or non-binary individuals, could participate if they wanted to.

Who worked on it?

Background Research – In collaboration with Glasgow Strathclyde University, a review was conducted exploring key areas lacking data on young women’s experiences and key focus areas for policy teams at The Scottish Government. This review was completed by the Masters student, Eilidh Young.

Working Group – A working group was established comprised of young people, healthcare professionals, and experts from across the third-sector. The working group informed the research at each phase of the project, contributing to survey design, group discussion engagement, analysis and write-up. The group met three times between October 2022 and April 2023, young people were compensated for their time.

Survey – The survey ran for just over three months between October 2022 and January 2023. It gathered 887 respondents from across every Scottish local authority and all ages between 16 and 30. The survey gave the researchers a broad sense of how young women and other people with marginalised genders experienced accessing healthcare in Scotland. 

Group Discussions – Four group discussions took place online and in person in March 2023, engaging with a total of 26 young women and people of marginalised genders who were disabled or had long-term health conditions; who lived rurally; who were from ethnic minorities; and whose weight impacts their access to healthcare.

The Researchers – Research was led by The Young Women’s Movement Research and Impact Manager Rhianna Mallia and Research Consultant Kirstie English.

Support and signposting

Some useful contacts if you need support or information about your health 

Young Scot’s Health & Wellbeing Resources

Disability information Scotland
0300 323 9961 | 

116 123 (24 hours) | | 

Beat: Eating disorder helpline  

0808 801 0432 (9am-midnight weekdays/4pm-midnight weekends) | 

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