Involving Young People in Research
21 January 2014
An innovative advisory group made up of young people has helped raise their aspirations while improving the quality of public health research.
Established in 2010, ALPHA (Advice Leading to Public Health Advancement) is a research advisory group of young people aged 14-20 from South Wales.
The group is run by the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) as part of their 'public involvement' work. DECIPHer is a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence and a collaboration between the Universities of Cardiff, Swansea and Bristol.
Research carried out at DECIPHer aims to help tackle public health issues such as diet and nutrition, physical activity, and alcohol, tobacco and drugs, with a particular focus on developing and evaluating multi-level interventions that will have an impact on the health and wellbeing of children and young people.
The ALPHA group has worked with researchers from Cardiff, Swansea and Bristol Universities to assist in bid development and research design, and to offer their advice on how best to carry out research with young people. The group has also worked with the Welsh Government on the Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children survey and reviewed research proposals for the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).
The group members are provided with relevant training, covering topics such as public health, the research cycle and ethics procedures, as well as developing knowledge of a range of quantitative and qualitative methods including focus groups, interviews, systematic reviews, questionnaires and randomised control trials.
Participation in the group has benefits for the young people, including increased confidence and improved presentation skills, as well as enhancing their CVs and personal statements when they go on to apply for jobs or places at university.