Publication Date
Publication Date: 

March - April 2017

"90 per cent of adolescents live in low- and middle-income countries. Despite an increasing focus on their well-being, comprehensive data collection systems and research for effective interventions are lacking."

This series of briefs provides a review of contemporary research methodologies for adolescent well-being in low- and middle-income countries. It was developed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Office of Research - Innocenti in collaboration with Columbia University and experts from the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing; funding was provided by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID). UNICEF Innocenti notes that adolescence is a critical period of cognitive, emotional, physical, and sexual development - one that provides a second "window of opportunity" to build on early investments, promote positive behaviours, and offer a second chance to those who fared less well in early childhood.

Topics covered in the briefs include: indicators and data sources, ethics, research with disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, participatory research, measurement of the social and structural determinants of adolescent health, and adolescent economic strengthening interventions. The aim of these briefs is to improve efforts to collect rigorous evidence for programmes and policies on adolescent health and well-being. They are designed to assist a wide range of professionals and stakeholders who conduct, commission, or interpret research findings to make decisions about programming, policy, and advocacy.

The briefs include:

  • Improving the Methodological Quality of Research in Adolescent Well-being, by Nicola J. Reavley and Susan M. Sawyer, April 5 2017 - "...makes the case that new understandings from neuroscience have important implications for programming; addressing social and structural determinants is crucial to improving adolescent well-being; inter-sectoral and comprehensive multi-component action is required, as is matching action to need; and gender and equity should always be considered in research, programmes and policy."
  • Data and Indicators to Measure Adolescent Health, Social Development and Well-being, by Peter Azzopardi, Elissa Kennedy, and George C Patton, April 4 2017 - "...covers: the principles of good indicator definition; common use of indicators; examples of indicators for adolescent health and social development; existing global data to describe - and populate indicators of - adolescent health and social development; and how to improve data collection efforts."
  • Inclusion with Protection: Obtaining informed consent when conducting research with adolescents, by John Santelli, Sonia Haerizadeh, and Terry McGovern, April 3 2017 - "...emphasizes the value of research with adolescents and discusses at length the importance of balancing inclusion and protection, concluding with a set of ethical ground rules and recommendations for research with adolescents and examples on how to apply them."
  • Research with Disadvantaged, Vulnerable and/or Marginalized Adolescents [DVMA], by Colette L. Auerswald, Amber Akemi Piatt, and Ali Mirzazadeh, April 2 2017 - "...summarizes the health and well-being inequities experienced by DVMAs and the need for research with this group. It reviews the challenges and barriers to their inclusion in research; shares practical implications and best practices for their inclusion in research; and addresses ethical challenges and approaches to research with DVMAs."
  • Adolescent Participation in Research: Innovation, rationale and next steps, by Emily J. Ozer and Amber Akemi Piatt, April 1 2017 - " the theoretical and empirical rationales for youth-led participatory action research, its key principles, phases, practical implications and ethical issues."
  • How to Measure Enabling and Supportive Systems for Adolescent Health, by Russell Viner, March 31 2017 - " the key concepts of social and structural determinants of health and the methodological issues related to their measurement in adolescence."
  • Methodologies to Capture the Multidimensional Effects of Economic Strengthening Interventions, by Fred M. Ssewamala and Laura Gauer Bermudez, March 30 2017 - "...presents strategies for examining the multidimensional effects of economic strengthening interventions with a specific focus on the health and well-being of adolescent beneficiaries, highlighting research gaps and opportunities."

On May 4 2017, UNICEF Innocenti broadcast a live interview with one of the editors of the series, Nikola Balvin, PsyD, on the UNICEF Innocenti Facebook page. Click here to watch the video.

Number of Pages: 

Between 13 and 18


Emails from Nikola Balvin to The Communication Initiative on May 4 2017 and May 5 2017. Image credit: UNICEF