Adolescent health research priorities: report of a technical consultation
This meeting aimed to contribute to defining global adolescent health research priorities and the role that WHO might play in these. It had a particular focus on the health of adolescents, young people, and youth in low and middle-income countries.
During 2015, the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MCA) at WHO Headquarters in Geneva conducted an exercise to establish global research priorities in adolescent health, which used the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) methodology. This exercise built on earlier work using a similar CHNRI methodology that established research priorities in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and HIV that was published in 2013, but extended it to cover eight additional areas: communicable diseases, health systems, injuries and violence, management of non-communicable diseases, mental health, nutrition, physical activity, and substance use.
There are approximately 1.2 billion adolescents (10-19 years) globally, roughly 90% of whom live in low and middle-income countries. The relative importance of both mortality and morbidity among adolescents is increasing as the burden of disease among young children has fallen rapidly over the past two decades. However, the importance of the health of adolescents far exceeds immediate mortality and morbidity as many risk or protective factors for future adult disease either start or are consolidated during the second decade of life. Although much is known about what should be done to improve adolescent health, research on adolescent health has tended to lag behind research in both child and adult health.
WHO convened a technical consultation with experts on 13th and 14th October 2015 to review the findings from the adolescent health research priorities exercise, which had used a modification of the CHNRI approach, and to advise on how best to disseminate its results. This was done on Day 1 of the consultation. In addition, on Day 2, three specific research areas were discussed in more detail in groups. These are potential issues that might be taken forward by WHO. All three areas had been confirmed as being important during the research prioritization exercise. Within each research area, expert advice was sought on the most important research question that WHO should consider soliciting funds for, and the most appropriate settings and study design for each of these.
This report summarizes the key lessons learned from the research priority setting exercise, and the suggestions made by the experts who attended the meeting.