Adolescent health study underway and seeking community advisors
Researchers from the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health, based in Dubbo and Orange, are calling for community representatives to join an advisory committee for their major study on adolescent health.
The adolescent health study, called ARCHER, received almost $1 million last year from the National Health and Medical Research Council - one of the largest research grants awarded in 2010.
ARCHER is looking at the impact of changes in puberty hormones on the health and wellness of adolescents, including the impact on relationships, sleep patterns, anxiety and depression, on risky behaviours, and risks for future heart health. Across all areas of the study, researchers will be looking at the particular health challenges faced by rural teenagers, who are often not well represented in broader adolescent health studies.
“Having a community consultation committee is very important to us. Active participation from parents, youth workers, health professionals, teachers, government officers and young people will make sure this is more than a dry academic study and reflects the real health concerns affecting young people,” said Dr Catherine Hawke, who is leading the ARCHER study in Dubbo and Orange.
“Ideally, the committee will be able to advise us on local factors which are important to the health of young people, how we can disseminate information about the study and how we can ensure that our research translates into benefits for young people,” Dr Hawke said.
“This study has the potential to dramatically increase our understanding of why adolescents behave and think the way they do and we want local communities – through community representatives – to make sure that families and all the people who work with young people are able to have input.”
ARCHER is being lead by Dr Hawke and Professor Kate Steinbeck, Professor of Adolescent Medicine at the University of Sydney, and draws in a large group of health, medical and education experts from across the University. Many will be regular visitors to Dubbo and Orange as the study progresses, and are committed to supporting local health professionals, families and schools, through training and education programs.
ARCHER researchers completed pilot studies in 2010, and have also undertaken a small study investigating links between sleep, puberty and depression, supported by Australian Rotary Health.
“The local communities have already been so helpful – we have had wonderful support from schools, sporting and community groups,” Dr Hawke said. “It is not very often that a research project of this size is based in a rural community, and we hope that more people will be involved as the program expands, including through the community advisory group.”
Recruitment of students into the ARCHER study is underway.
If you are interested is getting involved please contact our ARCHER Study Manager Mrs Karen Paxton on 6882 0288 for the date of our next meeting.