Our Research Projects

Longitudinal Study
Belfast Youth Development Study (BYDS)

BYDS is a unique and innovative longitudinal study of adolescent drug use in Northern Ireland. Sweeps 1 to 7 followed young people from ages 11/12 to 21, allowing us to investigate the risk and protective factors associated with different types of behavioural patterns and outcomes in adolescence and early adulthood. The study’s findings have provided valuable data across many areas of young people’s lives such as education for example, as well as providing evidence that was used by local government and internationally. We have re-contacted the original BYDS participants and are carrying out an initial follow-up study in 2019, in preparation for an 8th sweep of BYDS in 2020.

The 2019 BYDS online questionnaire can be accessed by following this link.

As well as issues covered in earlier waves, the follow-up study is also looking at traumatic experiences people may have had as a child or adult. This will allow us to pilot new measures such as trauma and intergenerational trauma and run preliminary analyses on the trauma model we have developed. We will be seeking consent from participants for data linkage with existing health databases, allowing the investigation of possible causal links with physical and mental health problems.

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Mixed Methods Study
Psycho-active Substances (NPS)

This study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in 2015 to provide health-related evidence on NPS, addressing important research questions such as pattern of use, frequency of consumption and sources of obtaining the drug.

The study used a mixed methods design, involving secondary data analysis of the Belfast Youth Development Study (BYDS) and qualitative analysis via narrative interviews of participants, sampled from BYDS, drug and alcohol service settings and the prison estate, to explore trajectories of NPS use.

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Development Work
Social Network Analysis

We are collaborating with the University of Glasgow to study how friendships and social connections can influence health behaviours and mental health outcomes.

Like the Belfast Youth Development Study in Northern Ireland, the Adolescents Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe, and Peers and Levels of Stress studies collected information on health outcomes and behaviours among post-primary school children in the West of Scotland.  All these studies also collected information on friendships within the schools.  We can use this information to look at how factors like fiendship groups may influence health behaviour and mental wellbeing.

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Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA)
The Relationship between alcohol and mental health problems (2019)

Co-occurring alcohol issues and mental health conditions is a growing problem within Mental Health Services and can contribute to poor outcomes for patients and service users.

This Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA), funded by Alco, aims to:

  1. identify the models of practice currently used in the UK and internatinally to address the complex issues of co-current mental health and aclohol use disorders, and
  2. examines the effectiveness of psychosocial and pharmacological interventions for adults (18+) with co morbid alcohol use and mental health problems.
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