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The world is home to 1.2 billion adolescents: the largest cohort of this age-group in history. Adolescence is a critical period of cognitive, emotional, physical and sexual development with consequences that stretch far into adulthood. The period also provides a second “window of opportunity” to build on early investments, promote positive behaviours, and offer a second chance to those who fared less well in early childhood.

90 per cent of adolescents live in low- and middle-income countries. Despite an increasing focus on their well-being, comprehensive data collection systems and research for effective interventions are lacking. This is particularly true for younger and disadvantaged adolescents.

Developed with Columbia University and experts from the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing this series of briefs provides a much needed review of contemporary research methodologies for adolescent well-being in low- and middle-income countries, covering: indicators and data sources, ethics, research with disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, participatory research, measurement of the social and structural determinants of adolescent health, and adolescent economic strengthening interventions. 

The aim of these briefs is to improve efforts to collect rigorous evidence for programmes and policies on adolescent health and well-being. They will assist a wide range of professionals and stakeholders who conduct, commission or interpret research findings to make decisions about programming, policy and advocacy.

This initiative was funded by the UK Department for International Development. The Editors of the series were John Santelli, MD, MPH, Columbia University and Nikola Balvin, PsyD, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti.

This brief introduces the methodological series Conducting Research with Adolescents from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), outlining key research themes, intervention types, and their associated methodological implications. It highlights adolescence as a critical phase within the life course and a period of biological and social transition that is itself undergoing change. It makes the case that new understandings from neuroscience have important implications for programming; addressing social and structural determinants is crucial to improving adolescent well-being; inter-sectoral and comprehensive multi-component action is required, as is matching action to need; and gender and equity should always be considered in research, programmes and policy.

AUTHOR(S)

Nicola J. Reavley; Susan M. Sawyer
LANGUAGES:
This brief focuses on quantitative data and indicators to measure adolescent health, social development and well-being. It covers: the principles of good indicator definition; common use of indicators; examples of indicators for adolescent health and social development; existing global data to describe - and populate indicators of - adolescent health and social development; and how to improve data collection efforts.

AUTHOR(S)

Peter Azzopardi; Elissa Kennedy; George C Patton
LANGUAGES:
Written primarily for UNICEF staff, funders of research, policy-makers, ethics committee members and researchers, this brief intends to provide principles and approaches to the common challenges in conducting research with adolescents. It emphasizes the value of research with adolescents and discusses at length the importance of balancing inclusion and protection, concluding with a set of ethical ground rules and recommendations for research with adolescents and examples on how to apply them.

AUTHOR(S)

John Santelli; Sonia Haerizadeh; Terry McGovern
LANGUAGES:
Disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized adolescents (DVMAs) are individuals aged 10–19, who are excluded from social, economic and/or educational opportunities enjoyed by other adolescents in their community due to numerous factors beyond their control. This brief summarizes the health and well-being inequities experienced by DVMAs and the need for research with this group. It reviews the challenges and barriers to their inclusion in research; shares practical implications and best practices for their inclusion in research; and addresses ethical challenges and approaches to research with DVMAs.

AUTHOR(S)

Colette L. Auerswald; Amber Akemi Piatt; Ali Mirzazadeh
LANGUAGES:
Undertaking youth-led participatory action research is an increasingly popular approach to advancing adolescent engagement and empowerment. This research - led by adolescents themselves - promotes social change and improves community conditions for healthy development. This brief reviews the theoretical and empirical rationales for youth-led participatory action research, its key principles, phases, practical implications and ethical issues.

AUTHOR(S)

Emily J. Ozer; Amber Akemi Piatt
LANGUAGES:
Enabling and protective systems for adolescents are the family, peers and the education and legal systems. In addition to research that focuses on individual adolescents, it is also important for researchers to consider measuring social determinants when conducting research on adolescent well-being. This brief reviews the key concepts of social and structural determinants of health and the methodological issues related to their measurement in adolescence.

AUTHOR(S)

Russell Viner
LANGUAGES:
The economic status of households can and does affect the health and well-being of adolescents. To address the intersection between economic deprivations and broader development goals, including health and well-being, governments, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun to include economic strengthening interventions as part of their core programming. This brief presents strategies for examining the multidimensional effects of economic strengthening interventions with a specific focus on the health and well-being of adolescent beneficiaries, highlighting research gaps and opportunities.

AUTHOR(S)

Fred M. Ssewamala; Laura Gauer Bermudez
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