Protocol for a realist review of complex interventions to prevent adolescents from engaging in multiple risk behaviours

Christina Cooper, Monique Lhussier, Janet Shucksmith, Susan Mary Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives - Adolescent risk behaviours are a key health concern. The purpose of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of how, why, for whom, and in what circumstances complex adolescent risk behaviour prevention programmes are most successful.

Methods and analysis - To understand how adolescent risk behaviour prevention programmes work in a real life context, a realist synthesis will be undertaken, operationalised in four phases.

Phase one - Developing a framework to map the theoretical and conceptual landscape of adolescent risk behaviour prevention. Guided by stakeholder consultation.

Phase two - Formulating initial programme theories through exploration of the literature, along with primary data from professional stakeholder interviews.

Phase three - Refining programme theories through more purposeful, in depth screening of the literature, along with primary qualitative data, from young people and professionals. Data will be collected through semi structured focus groups, to explore specific elements of the emerging programme theories.

Phase four - Testing programme theories through interviews with youth workers, following consultation with young people, using vignettes to explore the relationship between specific programme theories. This relatively novel method of primary and secondary data integration within a realist synthesis will provide deeper insight in to young peoples lived experience of risk behaviour prevention programmes, while maintaining transparency in the process of programme theory development.

Methods and analysis

Data analysis - A realist logic of analysis will be used to align data from each phase with context mechanism outcome configurations or specific elements thereof. Substantive theory will then be sought to understand and explain the findings.

Ethics and dissemination - This study has been approved by the Ethics committee at Northumbria University, UK. Findings will be disseminated through knowledge exchange with stakeholders, publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations, and formal and informal reports.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere015477
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


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