Involving young people in sexual health research and service improvement: conceptual analysis of patient and public involvement (PPI) in three projects

Ruth Lewis*, Nicola Boydell, Carolyn Blake, Zoe Clarke, Kirsten Kernaghan, Christina McMellon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Although increasingly recognised as valuable within sexual and reproductive health (SRH) research and service improvement, examples of patient and public involvement (PPI) are under-documented, including specific issues relating to young people’s involvement. This paper aims to contribute to greater transparency about the practical, methodological and ethical considerations of SRH-related PPI with young people, and to offer recommendations for their meaningful involvement.

Methods: Guided by a conceptual tool for evaluating youth participation (the “7P” framework), we analysed learning from PPI within three projects (two academic studies and one service improvement project) that worked with young people to shape sexual health research and practice in Scotland.

Analysis: Cross-project analysis of seven interconnected domains (purpose, positioning, perspectives, power relations, protection, place and process) generated productive dialogue about the nuances of meaningfully involving young people in shaping SRH research and services. Key learning includes the importance of: young people’s early involvement in agenda-setting for SRH improvement; developing trusting partnerships that can support involvement of diverse groups of young people; creating multiple ways for young people to contribute, including those that do not rely on direct conversation; and formative evaluation of young people’s experiences of involvement.

Conclusions: Mainstreaming young people’s meaningful involvement in shaping SRH research and services requires systems-level change. Resources are required to support SRH researchers and practitioners to share learning and build sustainable multi-sector partnerships, which in turn can increase opportunities for young people from diverse groups to engage with SRH-related PPI activities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health
Early online date28 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2022


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