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Lauren Cross

PhD student

Children, young people & families, Public mental health programme, Health inequalities

University of Cambridge

Project title

Capturing all voices: Developing a framework to shape inclusive participation practices in school-based health research.  

Project summary

Using a mixed methods design, this research will aim to: (1) explore whether existing school-based mental health and obesity research effectively engages those that might benefit most. (2) establish key participation barriers and facilitators from a range of stakeholder perspectives, including young people from underrepresented groups. (3) co-produce a framework to shape inclusive participation in school-based mental health and obesity research. (4) meaningfully engage and involve both participants and the public, including young people from a diverse range of backgrounds, throughout this research.

Research interests

Health and educational inequalities; Research participation; Diversity and inclusion within research processes; Participant and public involvement and engagement

In the news

Ipswich pupils aid research to boost mental health services

Lauren's Q&A

  • What has been your career journey so far?

    Before starting my PhD, I worked as a qualified secondary teacher within London and the East of England. I have also undertaken a BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath and an Mphil in Educational Research at the University of Cambridge. Following the completion of my Mphil, I worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience (King’s College London) and the Child and Adolescent Resilience and Mental Health (ChARM) research group at the University of Cambridge. Within these roles I assisted various research projects exploring school based mental health outcomes, interventions, and experiences.

  • Why did you choose to do a PhD in public health research?

    As a former teacher, and head of department, I have witnessed first-hand the important role educational settings can play in shaping children and young people’s long-term health and social outcomes. I believe quality public health research is a key tool in tackling childhood inequalities.

  • What is your research focused on?

    Promoting inclusive participation in school-based health research

  • Why is it important?

    Mental health and obesity have been identified as priority health concerns for children and young people in England, with further, quality evidence needed. Given adolescents spend a significant amount of time in schools, and the increasing role educational organisations play in promoting health, school sites are important settings for research. However, recruitment and retention of a diverse range of participants remains a challenge. This is important because in order for evidence to be useful, it needs to represent everyone’s opinions and experiences.

  • What do you like about being a part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research?

    I value the network for researchers and collaborative opportunities across the different NIHR SPHR hubs. I look forward to continue to connect, build relationships, and learn about research across disciplines from within an active and supportive community.

  • What skills have you learnt and/or are hoping to learn as part of your PhD?

    During my PhD I hope to continue to develop expertise using mixed methods to explore health and educational inequalities in children. I also aim to further advance my abilities to connect and engage children, young people, and educational communities within the research process.

  • What do you hope to do after completing your PhD?

    Following the completion of my PhD I aim to undertake further school-based prevention research as a post-doctoral researcher.

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