Population Health Studies of Adolescents

We have led the way locally, nationally and globally in studies of the health of young people. We have been the first to document patterns of adolescent health across the globe. Locally we have undertaken internationally unique studies of the factors influencing health as children pass through puberty and how young people move through the transitions of leaving school, getting a job, leaving home, getting married and having a family of their own. These studies have moved on to the next generation, where they are considering the influence of the health and well-being of parents prior to pregnancy on the healthy start to life for newborns.

Our prevention studies have addressed questions about how schools and local neighbourhoods can become healthier and more nurturing places for adolescents.  We have been particularly concerned with the health of young people who are socially marginalised including young indigenous people, young offenders and those who leave school early.

Our global work has included leading two series for the Lancet. The group is currently leading the Lancet Commission in Adolescent Health and Well-being in partnership with Columbia University, University of Washington, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London.  

Group Leaders: 
Group Members: 
Prof Craig Olsson
Role: 
Postdoctoral Fellow
A/Prof Joanne Williams
Role: 
Principle Research Fellow
Dr Peter Azzopardi
Role: 
PhD Student
Dr Rohan Borschmann
Role: 
Early Career Research Fellow
Dr Tracy Evans-Whipp
Role: 
Research Fellow
Dr Nathan Hughes
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Rachel Leung
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Lisa Mundy
Role: 
Project Manager
Dr Lauren Rose
Role: 
Researcher
Dr Michelle Tollit
Role: 
Project Officer
Dr Ian Williams
Role: 
Post Doc Research Fellow
Yvette Alway
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Denise Becker
Role: 
Research Assistant
Kristina Bennett
Role: 
Research Manager
Louise Canterford
Role: 
Data Analyst
Karly Cini
Role: 
Data Collection Coordinator
Amber Osborn
Role: 
Researcher
Molly O'Sullivan
Role: 
Project Coordinator
Charmaine Sambathkumar
Role: 
Administration
Rachel Smith
Role: 
Senior Research Officer
Prof Nicholas Allen
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Carolyn Coffee
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Nola Firth
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Prof Sheryl Hemphill
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Elizabeth Hughes
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Delyse Hutchinson
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
A/Prof Felice Jacka
Role: 
Hon. Principal Research Fellow
Dr Elissa Kennedy
Role: 
Honorary Research Associate
Prof Stuart Kinner
Role: 
NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and & Professor, Adolescent and Young Adult Health Equity
Dr Dean McKenzie
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Jacqueline Macdonald
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Jennifer McIntosh
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Jenny Proimos
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Nicola Reavley
Role: 
Honorary Research Associate
Dr Sophie Reid
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Prof John Toumbourou
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
Dr Julian Simmons
Role: 
Honorary Fellow
2000 Stories

The 2000 stories project (Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort) is a landmark longitudinal study spanning over 20 years. The project began in 1992, when a group of around 2000 Year 9 students (14-15 years of age) were selected to participate. Our participants completed 6 interviews at school age (from Years 9 – 12), and 3 interviews in young adulthood (aged around 21, 24 and 29). Thanks to the support of our dedicated participants, over 75% of our original cohort participated in the most recent interview. We’re currently undertaking our tenth round of interviews as our participants reach age 35.

The first six surveys alone created one of the most comprehensive pictures of adolescent development to date. We looked at many aspects of teenage health and behaviour, including mental health, personality and behaviour, school, family, and drug and alcohol use. This information has been used to improve the health of future generations by influencing policy and informing prevention programs. More recently, we have focussed on how teenage experiences, health and lifestyles may affect physical and emotional health in adulthood. Our findings have helped bring global attention to the important role of adolescence in shaping future health.

We’re now also speaking to participants about their experiences of pregnancy and parenthood as part of a parallel study, ‘2000 stories: The next generation’. This is one of the first prospective multi-generational studies in the world to look at how a parent’s lifestyle, health and behaviour before pregnancy (including adolescence and young adulthood), as well as during and after pregnancy, might influence their child’s health and development. This will help to promote healthier and happier families. Find out more about 2000 Stories here.

CATS Study

The CATS study is a new and unique longitudinal study of children in metropolitan Melbourne as they approach adolescence.  The study began in 2012 and is following over 1200 children from grade 3 (8-9 years of age). It covers the experiences of children and their families, their changing social context as they move into secondary school and the biological changes of puberty. Find out more about the CATS Study here.

Communities That Care

Communities That Care is a facilitated process that uses community training and technical resources to promote the healthy development of children and young people. Visit the Communities That Care Website.

IYDS

The International Youth Development Study (IYDS) is a long-term study that looks at the development of healthy and problem behaviours among young people in the state of Victoria, Australia, and the state of Washington, United States. IYDS is one of the first studies designed to examine whether or not differences in Australian and American cultures and schools affect youth development. The study began in 2002 and is ongoing.  The original sample included approximately 1000 students at each of three year levels in both Victoria and Washington, giving a total of nearly 6000 participants.  The study continues to follow-up participants into young adulthood. Find out more about the IYDS here.

Outdoor Youth Programs Research Alliance (OYPRA)

The Outdoor Youth Programs Research Alliance (OYPRA) is an Australian group looking at documenting the health and wellbeing benefits of outdoor programs for youth. Founded in 2009, OYPRA was established with the aim of providing quality evidence of the extent to which outdoor, camping and nature-based programs are associated with reliable improvements in resilience, learning and wellbeing among young people. The Alliance is hosted by MCRI, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and Deakin University. The team includes representatives from the health research sector, outdoor industry, government bodies, and non-profit community organisations.

OYPRA has developed a program of research to build Australian evidence of the benefits of outdoor and nature-based programs for young people. Ultimately we would like to identify effective ways of promoting resilience, learning and wellbeing among young people though outdoor programs. The planned research program comprises three distinct, but related, phases. Find out more about OYPRA here.

Adolescence- an age of opportunity: The health of Australian Indigenous young people

This PhD project aims to describe the health status of Indigenous adolescents in Australia, so as to identify opportunities to improve the health of young people and their communities. The project is supported by a NHMRC postgraduate scholarship, a Sidney Myer Health Scholarship and Clifford postgraduate scholarship.

The Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

The Lancet, the world’s leading medical Journal in global health, in partnership with The University of Melbourne, Columbia University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London have established a Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing. Coordinated through the Centre for Adolescent Health, funded by the by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, The University of Melbourne, Australia India Institute and Murdoch Children's. The Commission will be considering the actions that are possible for adolescent health across the globe. It will delineate the major adolescent health needs for all countries and the priority actions for investment in adolescent health. Visit the Lancet Youth website.

Australian Temperament Project

The Australian Temperament Project (ATP) is a longitudinal study of the psychosocial development of a large and representative sample of Australian children born in the state of Victoria, Australia between September 1982 and January 1983. Find out more about this project here.

Funding: 
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Australian Research Council
  • Australian Rotary Health
  • Invergowrie Foundation
  • Sidney Myer Fund
  • The University of Melbourne Strategic Initiative Fund
Collaborations: 
  • World Health Organization Collaborating Centre
  • Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Well-being
  • University of Washington IHME, SDRG
  • University College London
  • Columbia University
  • Kings College London
  • Public Health Foundation of India
  • International Centre for Women’s Research, Washington DC
  • American University of Beirut
  • Deakin University
  • Institute of Child Health London
  • Telethon Kids Institute
  • National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
  • University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance abuse