Improving the health of Indian teenagers--a demonstration program in rural New Mexico.

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The health status of Indian teenagers in the United States is below that of the general population. The usual barriers to the use of health care services that young people, including young Indians, encounter are compounded in rural areas by distance, isolation, and lack of appropriate services. To overcome these barriers in rural New Mexico, a public health demonstration project (a) established a single location where adolescents can receive multiple, integrated health care services free of charge; (b) set up the initial program of services at a rural school; (c) established links with existing agencies; and (d) incorporated community action toward creating change. The project began as a joint effort of three communities, the University of New Mexico (UNM), and the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service (IHS) of the Public Health Service; a secondary level public school soon became a participant. The project is being replicated in two other communities that have formed separate partnerships with UNM and the area IHS; also the New Mexico Health and Environment Department has joined the effort in one community. Preliminary data suggest that the services are being used by a majority of the target population, with the proportions of boys and girls about equal.