Involving young people in health research
This study explores the role, benefits and potential of young people’s involvement in health research, with a focus on mental health, infectious diseases and global heating.
It provides recommendations on how to meaningfully involve young people in research, and what it means to do that well.
- Findings from a rapid evidence review of 187 academic papers on young people's involvement in health research, with a focus on mental health, infectious diseases and global heating.
- Recommendations on how to strengthen young people's involvement in health research from 146 stakeholders across 18 countries, including India, Indonesia, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam.
Who this is for
- NGOs and youth advocacy organisations
- policy makers
- global health community.
The academic literature on young people's involvement in health research is still emerging, with most articles published in the last five years.
- The majority of published health research that involves young people takes place in high-income countries.
- Young people are more likely to be involved in research on mental health than research on infectious diseases or the health implications of global heating/climate change.
- Most published research does not report on the background of the young people who have been involved, so it is difficult to conclude how inclusive it has been.
- Young people are most frequently involved in research design and data collection, and less frequently involved in agenda-setting and dissemination/translation of findings.
- Young people tend to have some control over decision-making in health research, but typically less than adults.
Young people's involvement in health research benefits the research, the young people themselves, and their communities.
- Young people can better identify research questions and methods that fit their peers' needs and experiences because they understand their preferences and capabilities.
- Those involved in research feel more empowered, have improved career and academic outcomes, and have increased understanding of health issues.
- Young people's involvement can increase community awareness of particular problems and, in some cases, influence communities to take action to address these.
There are a number of practical recommendations on how to strengthen young people's involvement in health research.
- Develop a new standard among funders on how young people's involvement should be supported.
- Offer training and other capacity building activities to young people and researchers on how they can work together most effectively.
- Strengthen networks focused on involving young people in health research.
- Improve monitoring and evaluation by building a library of resources and piloting new approaches.
- Provide support that is tailored to young people in low- and middle-income countries, and strengthen the involvement of a diverse range of people.
- Involve young people in internal agenda-setting and funding decisions.