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New resource links College of Medicine researchers with teen stakeholders for input, feedback

Adolescent Health Network allows faculty to partner with teens interested in science on research studies and proposals geared at adolescent populations

Penn State PRO Wellness is organizing a network of teens, who are trained as stakeholders and could give health researchers feedback as they build and develop their studies. The project is funded through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Researchers may ask these high school students (grades 9-12) to provide feedback on such topics as: recruitment strategies, phrasing used in surveys, tasks study participants will be asked to complete and plans to share study results with teenagers at the conclusion of a project. These students are not research subjects but are providing stakeholder input and expertise on research directly relevant to them.

“At PRO Wellness, we have a long history of working with schools to provide health and wellness programming,” said Dr. Deepa Sekhar, director, Penn State PRO Wellness. “The creation of the adolescent health network is a natural evolution of our work in schools, with a two-fold purpose: improving the quality of adolescent research and sparking interest in science and biomedical research among teens.”

The network was launched in spring 2022, has trained nearly 40 students as stakeholders, hosted 4 sessions in the spring, and is actively booking sessions this fall 2022. All sessions are held virtually, via one-hour Zoom meetings.

How it Works

PRO Wellness is currently accepting inquiries from researchers who feel their research project could benefit from a session with the Adolescent Health Network; sessions may be scheduled in fall 2022 or spring 2023.

Once a research project has been accepted for an Adolescent Health Network session, the PRO Wellness staff will manage the logistics of scheduling, communicate with the network members, guide the researcher on their preparation and set up for the zoom meeting and assist with technology resources during the session. Materials may be circulated to the students prior to the session, to help facilitate discussion.

At the end of the session, PRO Wellness asks that the researcher talk about their career, education and training for the last ten minutes, to help educate students on a variety of careers in fields related to health research.

For more information on the Adolescent Health Network, contact Penn State PRO Wellness.

The Adolescent Health Network project is part of a portfolio of projects that PCORI has funded to help develop a community of patients and other stakeholders equipped to participate as partners in comparative clinical effectiveness research and disseminate PCORI-funded study results.

For more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts, visit

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