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Adolescent wellbeing

Despite great strides in improving overall child well-being, progress has been slower in key areas of adolescent vulnerability such as exposure to violence, early marriage, school dropout and unemployment, especially among adolescent girls in low and middle income countries.

Significant evidence and knowledge gaps regarding children’s specific vulnerabilities in this critical period of development and rapid transition remain. The Adolescent Health Lancet Series (2012) highlighted links between structural determinants, such as national wealth, inequality and education systems, and outcomes for adolescents. There is also increasing evidence of the role social factors (beliefs, attitudes and cultural norms) play in interventions that aim to improve wellbeing. Greater understanding of how different determinants interact and more systematic evidence- based guidance is needed to enable an effective structural approach in programme design.

The applied research programme, Social and Structural Determinants of Adolescent Wellbeing in Low and Middle Income Countries, seeks to advance knowledge on adolescent wellbeing across cultures and contexts, to shape more effective policies and address the most urgent issues. Together with DFID, the government of Italy, Sida, UNICEF and others, the global research partnership is working with multiple national governments and institutions to improve understandings of various dimensions of adolescents’ lives.

Adolescent wellbeing

Despite great strides in improving overall child well-being, progress has been slower in key areas of adolescent vulnerability such as exposure to violence, early marriage, school dropout and unemployment, especially among adolescent girls in low and middle income countries.

Significant evidence and knowledge gaps regarding children’s specific vulnerabilities in this critical period of development and rapid transition remain. The Adolescent Health Lancet Series (2012) highlighted links between structural determinants, such as national wealth, inequality and education systems, and outcomes for adolescents. There is also increasing evidence of the role social factors (beliefs, attitudes and cultural norms) play in interventions that aim to improve wellbeing. Greater understanding of how different determinants interact and more systematic evidence- based guidance is needed to enable an effective structural approach in programme design.

The applied research programme, Social and Structural Determinants of Adolescent Wellbeing in Low and Middle Income Countries, seeks to advance knowledge on adolescent wellbeing across cultures and contexts, to shape more effective policies and address the most urgent issues. Together with DFID, the government of Italy, Sida, UNICEF and others, the global research partnership is working with multiple national governments and institutions to improve understandings of various dimensions of adolescents’ lives.

LATEST PUBLICATIONS

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
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
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
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
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
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
This quarterly digest synthesizes the latest research findings in adolescent well-being over the previous three months. Key themes in this latest edition include: the new UN General Comment on the Rights of the Child during adolescence; the risks refugee and migrant children face on the central Mediterranean migration route; and the work of the Know Violence in Childhood: Global Learning Initiative, established as a collective response by individuals from multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations and funding agencies concerned about the global impact of violence in childhood and the need for investment in effective violence prevention strategies. The Digest offers News, Upcoming Events, Resources and Latest Research.

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
This paper sets out to provide a conceptual understanding of the gender socialization process during adolescence, its influences and outcomes, and practical suggestions on how to use this knowledge in the design of policies and programmes to improve gender equality.

AUTHOR(S)

Neetu A. John; Kirsten Stoebenau; Samantha Ritter; Jeffrey Edmeades; Nikola Balvin
Sexual violence against women and girls is widespread globally. In their lifetime, one in three women will experience intimate partner physical or sexual violence and 7 per cent will experience forced sex by someone other than an intimate partner.

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