Becoming a Medical Research Council (MRC) Young Person’s Panel member By Katie, GOSH YPAG

By London YPAG,

What is the MRC study about?

We were told that the research being conducted was a longitudinal study (over 10 years across the UK). The study will follow 100000 8–18-year-olds and wishes to investigate all aspects of adolescent health. For example, the biological, social, psychological, psychological and environmental influences on young people’s health.

Why are MRC conducting this study?

The MRC wishes to conduct this study because they feel that adolescent health is significantly understudied. They believe that by investigating adolescent health, it may help to prevent physical and mental ill health.

Why did the MRC need a young person’s panel?

They were looking for a diverse group of 10 young people from across the UK. Their aim was to allow young people to voice their opinions and feel a part of research that was for them and about them. This would allow a greater understanding of how we as young people would feel about the research.

What was required of us?

We had our first introductory meeting on the 17th of December 2022, where we were told what would be required of us and the confidentiality issues surrounding the work that we would be partaking in. During the meeting we were all able to introduce ourselves, by name, age, and the subjects we were interested in. It was an exciting experience to meet other people who were different to us.

On Monday the 19th of December 2022, the website which we would use to access all the documents for reviewing was open. Each of us were allocated 4 applications to review and were given a timesheet to make our comments on and record how many hours we spent either reviewing or in meetings.

The reviewing process was an amazing experience as it gave me an insight into the research process and the diversity in the types of research applications I was privileged to read.

On Saturday the 7th of January 2023, we had our review meeting where each of us shared our comments and ratings of each of the applications we had reviewed. Each application had been allocated to two people, so it was interesting to hear the similarities and differences in opinions. Each time an application had been reviewed by the allocated member of the panel we were all given the opportunity to rate it anonymously.

Unfortunately, due to confidentiality and legal issues we were not able to share anything we had learnt about the applications with our friends or family.

Why did I want to take part?

I wanted to be a part of the MRC young person’s panel because I thought it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn more about what happens before we receive completed research papers and studies which I have learnt about from studying psychology. I also took it as an opportunity to gain more knowledge about current research and techniques which could aid in my learning of psychology.

Would you recommend opportunities like this to someone else?

I definitely believe that more young people should take any opportunity that arises to join YPAGs and young people’s panels in research because it truly is a once in a lifetime learning experience of the work, effort and time that goes into research and studies before they have even been conducted.  It is also a great opportunity to meet more people from all walks of life who may have similar interests or differing opinions, which makes meetings more interesting as everyone shares their individual opinions.

Katie- GOSH YPAG member