Gail Cummins

Project Title: HBSC Child Resource: using a participatory approach to disseminate health information to children.

Student Name:  Gail Cummins

Supervisor: Dr. Etain Kiely, Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Ms. Margaret Mc Loone

Funding Body: Department of Health and Chidlren


The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey is an international study conducted in collaboration with the WHO. In this survey, data are collected through questionnaires, school children participating voluntarily give their time and information about themselves and their lives. At the stages of data analysis and dissemination stakeholders, such as policy makers and health professionals are provided with survey information in various formats and can request specific data analysis and topic-focused reports. However, while survey information is disseminated to children they have, to date, no input into analysis undertaken or influence on the format of dissemination materials. Therefore in terms of stakeholder status children have not been considered on equal terms.

 The aim of this study was to explore children’s views in relation to how the HBSC Ireland data could be disseminated as a youth friendly resource, and to act on these to develop appropriate dissemination methods. Participative workshops were undertaken with children aged 9-18 years from mixed gender, DEIS/non-DEIS schools, located in urban and rural locations. In total approximately 450 young people participated in this research. This study also explored methods and levels of engagement for children in this research process, gained an insight into the HBSC topics that children found interesting, and the type of information they would like regarding these topics. Data collected during these participatory workshops with young people were analysed and presented by further groups of young people, resulting in data which is freer of adult censure and interpretation.

 Results show that alcohol was found to be the most interesting HBSC topic. DVDs and web based resources were suggested by the children as being the two most effective channels for disseminating information to them both in school and out of school settings respectively. Based on the recommendations of the young people who participated in this study, both of these resources were developed and were aligned with 5th and 6th class primary SPHE and mathematics curriculums in Ireland. Evaluation of this learning resource identified that it had successfully achieved its learning outcomes. Evaluations of the PRP (Participative Research Process) was carried out by young people who participated in participatory workshops. The participants commented very positively on their experience. Based on the protocols used throughout this study, the researcher has developed a participatory framework to assist other researchers. This framework offers specific protocols for data generation, analysis and presentation that are guided by published theoretical frameworks. By developing such a framework it may assist policy makers and health professionals in these fields in future.  Overall this research has provided an opportunity for children’s rights in relation to research to be brought in line with that of other stakeholders in the process.