Research project

Driving inclusive engagement and awareness in clinical research

Project overview

Our work at LifeLab holds young people at its core, involving them in the co-creation and production of our educational interventions, implemented in our randomised controlled trials. This typically involves working with young people through their schools and relies on capacity of teachers to support the engagement. The young people are often compensated for their time and engagement with vouchers, but this does not adequately ensure genuine co-creation; the young people give up their time on an ad-hoc basis and don’t necessarily have the opportunity to engage on a regular and iterative basis. Wanting to ensure that the ideals of participatory research are built into the work we do from the start, we have been considering how best to meaningfully involve young people, particularly the age that we typically work with (12-16 years).

Applying Participatory Action Theory, we have identified a way to establish a youth panel, where young people apply for and are recruited to formal employment with the University. This shows the commitment of the University and LifeLab to the on-going involvement of young people, giving them a voice and substantial role in co-creation across a range of research activities. Employing young people through this innovative approach will build our capacity for genuinely involving young people in the research that is carried out for their benefit and will prove a pathfinder approach for other researchers working in the field of adolescent health (this approach has already been identified as an exemplar as a model for participatory research in other projects). It will build our understanding around how best to involve young people in research.

We will use our learnings to inform training we provide to researchers around engagement of young people – developing skills in participatory research with young people. Importantly, it will also build capacity and understanding of the research process in the young people involved. An output of the young people’s work will be a series of videos/animations for dissemination to their peers (and translated into key additional languages to ensure accessibility) to cover topics such as:
- What is clinical research?
- How can I take part in research?
- How can I support the development of research that is important and
relevant to young people
- How can I make sure that research for/about young people is developed
in a way that is going to be of benefit to us


Lead researcher

Dr Kath Woods-Townsend

Principal Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Adolescent Health
  • Scientific Literacy
  • Health Literacy
Connect with Kath

Research outputs