Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Adolescent Health Study

MRC’s Adolescent Health Study (AHS) will be a new longitudinal population study and data platform. It will focus on the critical biological and social developments that occur during adolescence.

AHS will aim to recruit and retain around 100,000 young people, aged eight to 18 at enrolment, and will follow their health and wellbeing for a period of 10 years. Recruitment will take place predominantly through schools.

The vision is to stimulate an exponential increase in research to understand health trajectories and outcomes for young people, with a key focus on health equity.

Budget:
£62 million
Duration:
This is a 12-year award. The initial two-year pilot phase of AHS will commence in 2024, to be followed by a 10-year period of recruitment.
Partners involved:
Medical Research Council (MRC)

The scope and what we're doing

The UK has a world-leading portfolio of longitudinal population-based studies, however there is a critical gap during adolescence, where we do not have large-scale studies.

This project arose from a research community need for infrastructure to support studies on adolescence and it is designed to include representation from the full range of socioeconomic and ethnic groups.

The AHS will address this need and will enable research to understand the health and developmental trajectories of adolescents in the 2020s.

AHS will be a longitudinal population study and data platform and expects to recruit 100,000 participants aged eight to 18 years old from 2026, following a two-year pilot phase.

The study will use an accelerated design, where all age groups are recruited simultaneously, to allow the different transitions occurring during adolescence to be studied in a rapid timeframe.

Recruitment will largely take place through schools and the study will be co-designed with young people and other key stakeholders.

The two phases of the AHS design are:

  1. An initial two-year phase of engagement work to optimise recruitment and retention strategies and an internal pilot to test and improve study processes.
  2. A subsequent 10-year phase to recruit all remaining participants and study their development.

Why we're doing it

AHS is being established in response to community need and it will complement the Economic and Social Research Council led Early Life Cohort, which is currently in feasibility phase.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Recruitment for the Director of AHS will go live shortly.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

In late 2023, MRC launched a funding opportunity to develop and evaluate innovative methods to study adolescent health.

This opportunity aimed to support the development and evaluation of tools and methods for engaging, recruiting and retaining adolescents aged eight to 18 years in longitudinal population studies, and for assessing their health and wellbeing. Five awards were made, covering a broad portfolio across sleep, mental and physical health, digital data and puberty.

MRC hosted a webinar introducing the study in April 2022, followed by two workshops in May 2022, on engagement, tools and measures for working with young people aged eight to 18.

Watch a recording of the Adolescent Health Study webinar on YouTube

Read a report from the UK Adolescent Health Study workshops

Who to contact

AHS team

Email: ahs@mrc.ukri.org

Governance, management and panels

The governance structure is under development.

Last updated: 20 November 2023

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