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Meet our brilliant minds: Paul Hockey

Paul Hockey is a Project Coordinator with the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study within the Population Health theme.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to join MCRI

I started at MCRI in 2015. For the past four years, I have worked with the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS) in the Centre for Adolescent Health under the guidance of Program Manager Dr Lisa Mundy and Project Coordinator Elissa Phillips. 

In my role I’m involved across most areas of project operations, with a focus on data collection and data management. CATS is a longitudinal cohort study following over 1200 young people as they make the transition from childhood into adolescence. 

We are one of the first studies in the world to characterise pubertal development and the suite of changes (with a particular focus on social and emotional development) that happen during these years. They’re also a time in which many common mental health problems emerge and school disengagement becomes more prevalent. Despite these important changes, this age group is remarkably under-researched, with attention typically on younger children or older adolescents.

Can you describe to us what we are seeing in the image we have featured?

The CATS cohort were recruited from across Melbourne, and this map shows the suburbs our cohort covers in wave 8 (15-16 years). Mapping participant locations helps identify geographical clusters that we can target to reach the most participants within our available timeframe and budget. For example, in previous waves we’ve offered home visits or local drop-in centres to allow us to reach as many participants as possible. Innovative techniques like this have helped us maintain strong participation rates with over 80 per cent of our recruited sample taking part in each wave of data collection.

Tell us about the project which this image is from and what’s next for you and the project? 

We’ve produced several reports for the Victorian and Commonwealth Departments of Education and Training, some of which you can see on our website. These reports have focused on the links between learning, engagement and wellbeing during these middle years and the transition from primary to secondary school. Our work aims to identify modifiable risk or protective factors that could be targeted by future interventions during these middle years to improve outcomes for young people. 

We’re currently busy preparing for our 9th wave of data collection, launching in late June 2020. This will continue our previous focus on mental health, wellbeing and education, while introducing several measures looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of young people.