Background: At least 70 percent of premature adult deaths result from behaviors beginning or reinforced in adolescence. Yet, inclusion of the teenage voice to inform adolescent health research is often overlooked. This is related in part to the challenges in engaging teenagers as stakeholders, including aging out of adolescence and lack of a sustainable framework to recruit and train new adolescents.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: The project team proposes the creation of an innovative system of school access points for sustainable adolescent stakeholder engagement via the PRO Wellness team’s existing network of 649 Pennsylvania (PA) Healthy Champions school connections. The project team will simultaneously connect to a national network of adolescent health researchers to use this network via the project lead’s involvement with the Clinical and Translational Science Awards’ (CTSA) Community Engaged Research Core and other professional organizations.
Objectives: The team’s primary objective is to develop and implement standard processes to build a sustainable framework linking researchers with adolescent stakeholders via a system of school access points based on the Healthy Champions school network. Secondary objectives include: (a) engaging a diverse group of adolescent stakeholders in the network by targeting 15 diverse schools for inclusion and leveraging adolescent expertise to understand how best to engage their peers and (b) using existing patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) training, with modifications as informed by adolescent feedback, to educate 50 adolescent stakeholders across PA (three to four adolescents each from the 15 schools).
Activities: A stakeholder advisory board (SAB) will formalize network processes. The adolescent stakeholder network will be built leveraging the team’s Healthy Champions school contacts using these standardized processes. Adolescent health researchers will be engaged via three research institutions or professional organizations to utilize the network for PCOR/CER.
Projected Outcomes and Outputs: Development and implementation of processes to build a system of school access points for a sustainable adolescent stakeholder network (n=15 high schools, short term). Creation of a network of 50 adolescent stakeholders who complete PCOR training and engage in guiding PCOR with adolescent health researchers (n=50, medium term). Successful use of the network by adolescent health researchers from at least n=3 research institutions or professional organizations (medium term). Creation and dissemination of resources to promote utilization and replication of the network (n=7 project materials uploaded to the PCORI repository, long term). Growth of the network in year 3 (after funded period) with new schools (n=5), adolescents (n=25) and researchers (at least n=6, long term) using the network.
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: A 12-participant SAB (researchers, school staff, parents, adolescents) will formalize network processes during and between eight meetings in year 1. The six year 2 meetings will focus on addressing issues that arise in trialing the network and guiding evaluation and dissemination plans. Adolescents in the stakeholder network, adolescent health researchers, and school staff will provide ongoing evaluation to support program updates and sustainability.
Project Collaborators: Penn State CTSA