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Barriers to, and facilitators of, the health of young people: A systematic review of evidence on young peoples views and on interventions in mental health, physical activity and healthy eating. Summary

This report synthesises the results of three systematic reviews of the barriers to, and facilitators of, mental health, physical activity and healthy eating among young people with a view to making recommendations about how their health can be promoted. There are many useful messages for policy-makers, commissioners, practitioners, health care consumers (e.g. young people, parents) and researchers who are involved in promoting health or conducting research with young people. Since part of the reviewing process involved assessing the volume and quality of the evidence available to services to help promote health, this review also:

  • outlines a future research agenda for promoting young people’s health; and
  • makes recommendations for how research may best be conducted.

How to read this report

As this report summarises three systematic reviews it is necessarily lengthy and is therefore organised in two volumes. Some readers will be interested in the whole report to get an overall picture of, not only the findings of the reviews, but about how we came to those findings. Others will want to be directed to the parts most relevant to their needs. Because of these differing needs, information has been repeated in some sections. The following guide will help readers make these decisions.

All readers are advised to read Volume 1: Overview. This gives an overall picture of the findings of the reviews and ends with explicit recommendations for:

  • the types of interventions which have been demonstrated (through high-quality evaluations) to have positive effects for promoting health among young people (and the types which have NOT been shown to be effective);
  • involving and listening to the views of young people;
  • the development of future interventions (i.e. those interventions which look promising but which need to be developed and tested further; gaps in the kinds of interventions which have been evaluated); and
  • how best to evaluate interventions.

Taken together, these recommendations emphasise the need for different readers to work in partnership with each other to build on the current evidence-base.

The individual chapters of Volume 2: Complete Report flesh out the above sections in more detail and are fully referenced. Please refer to the preface for a guide to which chapters are relevant to different audiences.

This report should be cited as: Shepherd J, Garcia J, Oliver S, Harden A, Rees R, Brunton G, Oakley A (2002) Barriers to, and facilitators of the health of young people: a systematic review of evidence on young people's views and on interventions in mental health, physical activity and healthy eating. Volume 1: Overview and Volume 2: Complete report. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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