Asking adolescents: the challenges of survey research on young people

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Presented by Dorothy Currie, Senior Statistician, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews. Abstract: Carrying out surveys of young people involves many challenges that differ from similar research with adults. As researchers we have a duty to ensure such surveys are specifically designed for young people, considering issues such as access; informed consent (from who?); administration methods and settings; and using questions that are age appropriate in content and vocabulary. We also have a duty to ensure that we do not waste young people’s time, that the data we generate from such surveys is of high quality and that it is used to its maximum potential through our dissemination strategy. Producing comparative data from surveys of young people carried out in many countries adds another layer of complexity, such as problems of translation, differing guidelines for consent (or no guidelines!), different school systems, and different cultural relevance, acceptability or understanding of specific concepts. International dissemination frequently involves country rankings, which have the potential for both positive and negative impacts on the young people surveyed. The challenges specific to surveys of young people will be illustrated with examples from a long-running international repeat cross-sectional survey of adolescent health and wellbeing; the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey: a WHO collaborative study. Biography: Dorothy Currie is based at the Medical School at the University of St Andrews where she is senior statistician. Her research interests focus on survey research with adolescents, in particular cross national comparative indicators of young people’s health. Much of her research has been based around the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, a World Health Organization cross-national collaborative study. Dorothy is part of the Scottish HBSC team, is chair of the International HBSC Methodological Development Group and sits on the International HBSC Co-ordinating Committee.
Period2 Apr 2014
Event typeSeminar
LocationEdinburgh, United Kingdom


  • quantitative methods