The study’s purpose was to evaluate the accessibility of, and advice provided by, sexual health and advice services for young people in Croydon, UK, using a ‘mystery shopper’ approach.

Nineteen young people were trained as mystery shoppers. The group developed a set of standards-based on existing guidelines of best practice that should be met when working with young people. The group accessed local sexual health services in pairs posing as genuine patients. Using one of four scenarios, the mystery shoppers assessed the service they received against the predefined standards.

The main access difficulties occurred in the reception area. Confidentiality was a significant concern and was frequently not explained. The advice and information received were generally clearly given and with an appropriate level of detail.

The study concluded that additional training and support needs to be offered to receptionists. Confidentiality policies and statements need to be effectively communicated. When confidentiality policies are well-spoken, the clients are more satisfied and prefer a particular health organization. This can help the health care providers by giving them an idea of how patients can be happy with their services.