When thinking about children and young people’s everyday lives and the issues that affect them, research is often done for children and young people but not with them. However, recognising young people as capable and informed experts in their own lives and involving them as subjects and participants in research, rather than objects, offers crucial insights into their day to day lives.

Stock image of young people socialising

This project has a specific focus on exploring the low uptake of long-acting reversible contraception (such as the implant, IUD, and IUS) amongst this age group. It is supported by GP Federation, Greenwich Health. Recognising the value of young people’s lived experience as well as the possibility that young people may not have felt comfortable talking to adult researchers about their sexual activity, we recruited a group of talented young people aged 16 to 18 years old as co-researchers on this project.  

Drawing on participatory research methods, our co-researchers have been crucial in identifying key research questions and shaping the design and delivery of this project. After a comprehensive training programme, our co-researchers went out into the community and carried out interviews and surveys with a diverse group of young people within Greenwich about their awareness and understanding of their contraceptive options, and the personal, social, and structural factors that influence decision-making.  

Throughout this project, our young co-researchers have been invaluable in identifying areas of study and collecting information from their peers that adult researchers may have missed.

Jahan Foster, social research manager at Greenwich Healthwatch

They found, for instance, that a lack of bodily control around starting and stopping long-acting reversible contraception is a significant deterrent in their use, leading some young people to choose more flexible methods such as the contraceptive pill.  

Such a finding reveals the contrast between what service providers believe to be a good method (for instance, the high efficacy rates of long-acting reversible contraception and the limited ongoing effort required) and what service users think is important when making decisions about their health (in this case, more control).  

Involving young people with lived experience in this project has improved the quality and relevance of the data collected and in doing so, will hopefully lead to the development of interventions and recommendations that fit better with young people’s issues and interests.  

Further information

Healthwatch Greenwich is a statutory organisation for people who use health and social care services in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. We carry out qualitative and quantitative research on a wide variety of health and social care related projects, through face to face and virtual engagement activities. We seek out as many ways as possible to involve service users, carers, and the public in our work in a process of shared learning and knowledge exchange.