HBSC England is keen to include young people in their research as co-researchers. Young people can be involved as co-researchers in many aspects of the study – identifying new research areas, evaluating the questions used in the HBSC questionnaire and helping to explain current HBSC findings. Their active participation in the research process ensures the study and its methodology reflect being a young person in today’s society. For instance, taking on board young researchers’ feedback can ensure questions are easy to understand and reflect topics highly relevant to them. By actively involving young researchers in the HBSC study it does not only improve the study, but also helps to facilitate young peoples’ voice and influence over policy and practice.

The HBSC England team has been very active in involving young people in the research and has engaged in youth participation since we began the survey in 2009. Young researchers have worked with us to prepare the HBSC surveys for data collection, including identifying important topics and shaping the questions which are included in the survey.

Current survey round 2021/22

The HBSC England team has been pleased to partner with the Youth PPI Café whose overall aim is to ensure that young people can be actively involved in decisions on a range of research relating to children and young people, and use their unique lived experience to refine service development. The Youth PPI Café is a collaborative peer-based network in Sussex that aims to engage children and young people (aged 11-24 years old) in research that impacts them. This space is entirely youth-led and gives young people the opportunity to share what they feel is important to them, using their unique experience to guide clinicians and researchers to take research and service development projects forward. The young people involved come from Children and Young Person Services (ChYPs) & Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs), local schools, colleges and charities working with young people.

For this round the Youth Café has been involved in the development and refinement of the England specific survey questions. This included a virtual meeting with members of the HBSC England team and young people where a number of topics were discussed, including around the bullying questions and the new in-game purchases (gambling) questions. They suggested changes to improve clarity and ensure the examples provided were relevant to young people now, for example with popular social networking sites and apps as well as preferred game consoles. As a result of discussions with the Youth Café we made updates to the Year 7 and 9 surveys specifically around gender identity, sleep patterns, attraction and bullying. The young people felt it was important to capture the experiences of younger age groups whose experiences are often unarticulated, or unheard by adults.

Past survey rounds 2009-2018

Young people have also assisted with disseminating research findings via the creation of infographics and contributions to the 2014 HBSC England national report. The HBSC England team has worked with our young researchers in a number of ways. We have held one-off workshops which bring together a variety of young people from differing backgrounds; and we have also established connections with local schools, through which we have formed Research Advisory Groups. Due to the nature of adolescence and school life the Research Advisory Groups are fluid in nature; each session sees the involvement of different young people from the school.