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Young people’s advisory groups in health research: scoping review and mapping of practices

Abstract

Background Young people’s advisory groups (YPAGs) for research are comprised of children or adolescents who work with researchers to shape different stages of the research process. Their involvement is expected to ensure studies better reflect the preferences and needs of targeted youth populations. However, despite their increasing use in health research, there is little systematic evidence on the methods and impacts associated with YPAGs.

Method To address this gap, we conducted a scoping review of YPAGs in youth-focused health studies. We systematically searched MEDLINE for empirical studies in populations between 12 years and 18 years of age published in 2019. If a potential YPAG was identified, authors were contacted for additional information about the activities and level of involvement of the YPAG.

Findings Of all studies that collected primary data from persons aged 12–18 years, only 21 studies reported using youth advice during their research. This represents less than 1% of all published empirical child and adolescent studies. There was variation in the type of research activity undertaken by YPAGs and their level of involvement. Most studies involved YPAGs in co-production of research design and/or in dissemination activities. The majority of authors that responded were positive about the impact of YPAGs.

Interpretation Recommendations for consistent reporting of YPAG involvement in empirical studies include reporting on the match between YPAG and study populations, frequency/format of meetings, and the nature and level of involvement.

  • adolescent health
  • psychology
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