The relationship between a trusted adult and adolescent outcomes: A protocol of a scoping review

Jan Pringle, Whitehead Ross, Dona Milne, Eileen Scott, John McAteer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although documentation of harm towards children and young people has existed for centuries, it was not until the 1960s that it became a specific focus for health professionals. Since that time, the importance of protective social networks has become better understood. The concept of trusted adults has come into sharper focus, with children being encouraged to develop networks of dependable adults to turn to for support in times of need. While many child protection processes highlight risks to younger children, there has been less emphasis on older children. The role of trusted adults may be particularly important during adolescence, due to burgeoning independence, developing sexuality, relationship formation, and associated vulnerabilities. While important choices relating to health and education are made during this period, there is little formal evidence relating to the impact of trusted adults on such outcomes. This review therefore aims to focus on the role and influence of trusted adults for adolescents.

This study is a scoping review. A broad range of databases will be searched, including MEDLINE, ERIC, Education Abstracts, Web of Science, ASSIA, Sociological Abstracts, and PsycINFO. Predefined inclusion/exclusion criteria will be used, with a focus on outcomes relating to health and education. Two reviewers will blind screen papers independently at all screening stages, with conflicts being resolved by a third reviewer. Quantitative and qualitative studies, as well as unpublished (grey) literature/reports, will be included. We will use the World Health Organization’s ‘second decade’ definition of adolescence. We aim to collate and map evidence in a broad overview and produce meta-analyses of homogenous data. Where this is not possible, a narrative summary will be produced.

There appears to be sparse knowledge regarding the role of trusted adults for adolescents. Potential benefits to health and wellbeing may impact on educational attainment, and vice versa. These areas are of particular relevance during the second decade, when decisions that affect future direction, achievement, and wellbeing are being made. The increased understanding of the role of trusted adults provided by this review may help to inform practice and policy and lead to potential benefits for the health and education of adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number207
Early online date24 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Nov 2018


  • adolescents
  • social support
  • harm reduction
  • educational status
  • health status
  • scoping review


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