Although youth-friendly service characteristics have been previously identified, consensus among a representative group of stakeholders about which of these characteristics are truly relevant to the youth-friendliness of services is currently lacking. In our study, young adults, parents and professionals were consulted on this topic to reveal existing (dis)agreement. In addition, (dis)agreement on feasibility for implementation in clinical practice was also assessed.
A mixed-method Delphi approach was used with three online questionnaire rounds and a physical meeting. Young adults (18–26 years) and parents were part of a public panel and professionals were allocated to the professional panel. In the rounds, participants were asked to rate the importance and feasibility of each item. Subsequently, the percentage agreement (% of participants giving a score of 7 or above on a 9-point Likert scale) within and across panels was calculated. Consensus was assumed to have been reached when at least 70% agreement was achieved. A thematic analysis of the qualitative data, obtained in the rounds and the physical meeting, was performed to identify overarching themes and characteristics of relevance to the youth-friendliness of services.
For 65% of the items included in the Delphi questionnaire, consensus on importance was reached within both panels. Participants showed more insecurity about the feasibility of these items, however. Our thematic analysis revealed reasons for disagreement between and within the panels.
Our study revealed substantial between- and within-panel agreement on youth-friendly service characteristics. We recommend that the items for which consensus was reached should be used as a checklist in terms of youth mental health service development, design and delivery. The characteristics for which there was disagreement between and within the panels should inspire an ongoing trialogue between young adults, parents and professionals both on the individual level and the service level.
Patient or Public Contribution
In this study, (parents of) young adults with lived experience were included as experts, including one of the coauthors. This coauthor contributed to the manuscript by having a final say about the included quotes.