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 critical biological and social developments that occur during adolescence.

The aim of AHS is to enable a better understanding of health trajectories and outcomes for young people, with a key focus on health equity.

£62 million
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 requirement for infrastructure to support studies on adolescence. It is designed to include representation from the full range of socioeconomic and ethnic groups. AHS will address this need, and enable researchers 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.

The project was prioritised for funding by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Infrastructure Advisory Committee in October 2021. Development of a formal business case is underway, to secure approval and funding from UKRI and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Why we're doing it

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

Opportunities, support and resources available

MRC has launched a new funding opportunity to develop and evaluate innovative methods to study adolescent health. The opportunity is open from 5 September 2022 to 27 October 2022 and has a budget of £600,000.

The aim is to develop and evaluate 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.

The tools and methods developed through this opportunity are expected to enhance the Adolescent Health Study (AHS) and give it the best possible chance of success. Their delivery is timed to enable testing during the pilot phase of AHS.

The products of this opportunity are also intended to benefit the wider adolescent health research community.

Regarding the main AHS study, separate opportunities will be launched for the Director and study sites. More information about these will be shared here in autumn 2022.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

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. A report from the workshops will be available soon.

View the webinar (YouTube).

Who to contact

AHS team


Last updated: 21 November 2022

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