Operationalizing Young Adult Engagement in Research: Insights from READY2Exit survey

University of Calgary

Up to 57% of adolescents with chronic health conditions experience mental health issues, the presence of which contributes to more pain, longer hospitalizations and poorer quality of life. Adolescents with co-occurring health and mental health issues, therefore, may experience additional challenges as they transition from pediatric to adult services. Research is needed to better understand the experiences and needs of adolescents with physical and mental health issues existing the pediatric system. The READY2Exit study aims to address this need using a patient-oriented, mix methods design. This research is being conducted in partnership with 5 young adult research partners (YARP) with lived experience in the health and mental health systems across Canada. In this presentation, researchers and YARP members will share their strategies for collaboration on READY2Exit, specific examples of how the YARP shaped the research, and lessons learned about the process of engagement in the READY2Exit Study.


Brooke Allemang
Brooke Allemang is a Doctoral Candidate in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary whose doctoral work is supported by the CIHR’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. She is a passionate advocate for youth partnership in research and a clinical social worker who is committed to amplifying youth voices in health and mental health service delivery.

Katelyn Greer
I am a person who has lived experience with mental health and addictions. I found the obstacles these experiences created to be extremely difficult to overcome in my youth. I now use these experiences as a source of strength and perspective in my role as a Youth Peer Support worker. Authentically connecting with people and reducing stigma is my passion. I love bringing humor, fun, and creativity to my work in councils, research, consulting, knowledge translation, and beyond! I am proud to be a part of communities working so hard to reduce these obstacles for other young people who are going through what I once did. There is still a lot of work to be done. I am hopeful we can make the changes needed if we work together!

Megan Patton
I am currently in my last year of my undergraduate degree studying psychology and a research assistant at the University of Calgary and SickKids Hospital. I’m really passionate about youth engagement in research. With experience as a youth partner and research assistant, I bring a unique perspective to this work. I am motivated to create change in the narrative around being a researcher with lived experience and the ways in which youth engaged research is conducted.

Background of the project

  • Transition from pediatric to adult health care is a high-risk period
  • Transition readiness (health-related knowledge and self-management skills) is associated with positive outcomes for youth, but transition readiness for youth with co-occuring mental/ mental and physical health issues has not been explored

Key takeaways

  • Clear roles, tasks, skills and expertise identified at the beginning of a research project is helpful for its overall coordination, especially in time-limited research
  • Leveraging communication technology and social media helped researchers and youth involved with the project stay connected throughout. Youth were using Whatsapp to connect – it was helpful to have a space to connect without the researcher present
  • “The process of research has been as important as the findings over time.” – Katelyn Greer

Key Learning Objectives (defined by presenters)

  1. Understand the practices, processes and outputs of young adult partnership in mental health research
  2. Learn about the experiences, challenges and lessons learned during the first nine months of the READY2Exit study
  3. Consider how to apply the principles of young adult partnership to their research or programs.

Key Themes

  1. Young adult partnerships in research
  2. Transitional-aged youth

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