School based youth participatory health research – what works?

Stuart, Kaz ORCID logo ORCID: , Routledge, R., Robson, M., Trennel, E., Stephan, I., Davies, L. and Graham, M. (2021) School based youth participatory health research – what works? Social Publishers Foundation Practitioner Research .

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Project summary: In 2020 the National Institute for Health Research funded a youth participatory health research project in a school in the North of England in the UK. A total of nine young people aged 17 – 18 years of age participated throughout a year of Covid-19 lockdowns, designing, conducting, analysing, writing up and disseminating their own research projects. The project took 40 hours of in-school time with Kaz Stuart from the University of Cumbria supporting the young people throughout their projects. Three groups were formed with each group investigating a different topic. One group investigated young people’s self-image on a national scale, another investigated the impact of home learning during lockdown on A-level students’ wellbeing at their school, and the third group researched the impact of lockdowns on young people’s self-image nationally. Each group produced a final research report which was disseminated to funders, policy makers, and relevant statutory and voluntary organisations. Two groups presented their findings to a group of local stakeholders at a celebration event. The three sets of findings offer a valuable understanding of young people’s lives and how they can be better supported in contemporary society. The young people reflected on their experience at the end of the project, and these were recorded in their work submitted for a level two national qualification in youth research and in their evaluation forms. These showed the value of youth participatory health research to the young people in developing their knowledge, confidence, skills, and career prospects.

Project context: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991) states that children have the right to express their views on all matters affecting them and to have those views given due weight. This implies the right to express their views on young people’s health and on how health research is conducted. These two perspectives can usefully be combined in youth participatory health research where young people both investigate health issues of their choosing with a method they deemed appropriate. More locally, the health and social care context in the UK equally espouses young people’s right to have a voice and to participate in decision making. For example, the Public Health England Framework for Young People’s Health (2014) and the National Institute for Health Research INVOLVE standards (2021) both advocate for young people’s participation in research design. And yet, our literature review of youth participatory health research in the UK in the last two decades found only twenty examples of health research led by young people; that is, policy is not translating into practice. This policy-practice gap was the catalyst for this project as we sought to understand, overcome and document the process of youth participatory research in a health context. In so doing, we hoped to make this methodology more accessible to other practitioners and researchers. The project took place in William Howard School, a secondary school (11 – 18 age range) with a very diverse student base in a rural location in a market town in the North of England. In December 2020 Kaz visited the school to explain the project to health and social care and psychology students in their first year of A-level study. At the end of this hour long session all 25 students signed and returned consent forms indicating they wished to take part.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Social Publishers Foundation Practitioner Research
Publisher: Social Publishing Foundation
Departments: Institute of Health > Social Work, Children and Families
Centre for Research in Health and Society (CRIHS)
Depositing User: Kaz Stuart
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2021 12:28
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 12:30


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