The International Coordinating Centre (ICC) of the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) Study is responsible for the management of the HBSC network. HBSC, founded in 1983, is an internationally comparative study on adolescent health, presently conducted in 26/27 European Union (EU) Member States. Its mission is to monitor adolescent health and wellbeing over time; increase knowledge of adolescent health and social determinants in Europe; and disseminate information to key stakeholders. HBSC provides data to inform national/EU policies to improve the health outcomes of more than 200 million children. The study is an exceptional resource for governments and organisations including the European Commission, the WHO, UNICEF, and the OECD.
The ICC’s mission is to enable network cooperation/knowledge sharing, be the public face of the study and a source of intelligence for stakeholders. It supports HBSC member teams in developing and implementing surveys that gather public health statistics about a population group that reflects the most important trends impacting future health of European citizens. It promotes the network’s core principles and values including consultation, democracy, inclusion and transparency. It advocates equity, sustainability and empowerment so that all members can participate fully in the study development. These core values are recorded in the HBSC Terms of Reference, an internal set of rules that the network has agreed and committed to adhere to.
Under ICC’s guidance, HBSC is planning its future direction in the coming decades (aims and objectives):
widen reach - improve the visibility/profile of HBSC; include children currently missed/not identified so far;
identify emerging health issues - review/develop HBSC content to address new challenges to young people’s health; and
build capacity/plan for succession - share knowledge/intelligence within the network, so junior network members learn skills and all aspects of the study development.
The ICC widely and continuously consults with research and experts to improve its work and to communicate its aims, objectives and core values which have been published.
The HBSC Study objective is to monitor and increase knowledge about the social, economic and cultural determinants of the health and health behaviours of school-aged children in 43 countries/regions of Europe and North America. HBSC generates benchmark data through regular surveys in 26 Member States and other countries to help guide national policies and international efforts to assess and improve the health outcomes of more than 200 million children.
The study operates on a four year cycle. Main activities include: 1) international research protocol development, including survey questionnaire construction, 2) survey preparation, 3) national data collection and submission, 4) international data file production, 5) international data analysis, and 6) dissemination and knowledge exchange. We’re currently in stages 1 & 2 and expect to be in stages 3 & 4 in 2014. In addition, there is ongoing development work, which is a key responsibility of the HBSC ICC, that must be promoted and sustained on an annual basis. As such, the ICC’s objective is to ensure the smooth running of the study so that it meets its goals of providing high quality data and disseminating its findings to key stakeholders in young people’s health.
To support key functions there are study infrastructures and procedures collectively termed ‘project management’ conducted by the ICC, which, as the strategic hub of the HBSC Study has three main priorities:
1. Network functioning - to develop and manage the HBSC Study international network and infrastructure
-enforcing the HBSC Terms of Reference, which guide the network’s activities and lay down rules, roles and responsibilities of network members, working groups, and specialist centres
-ensuring adherence to internationally planned work
-organising bi-annual network meetings
-providing the means for groups to communicate/debate through setting up email listserves, space on HBSC website, organising ad hoc meetings, facilitating video calls and through maintaining private network forum and stimulating discussions on Facebook.
-supporting and assisting potential new network teams
-harnessing the potential of a growing network
2. Production of Science - to improve the scientific quality and societal relevance of the data generated by the study through developing methodological sophistication and building capacity across the Member States
-coordinating the development and validation of the survey methods and Protocol
-driving quality improvement to produce robust and reliable data that will allow stakeholders to devise more specific and detailed questions around adolescent health and have these answered in more sophisticated and policy relevant ways
-advancing new discussions and developments around study scope and survey content
-driving innovation around network scientific activities and developing new means of collaboration among network members and national stakeholders
3. Outreach - to raise HBSC’s profile and linkage to policy development while building partnerships with major stakeholders
-coordinating the study’s communication strategy to ensure maximum dissemination of HBSC data, through conventional and state of the art new media channels, to relevant stakeholders in the form of reports, scientific papers, factsheets and data visualisations
-working closely with WHO Euro to reach wide audiences including Member State health ministries and key decision-makers
-encouraging and brokering the development of new partnerships with leading organisations, including EC, UNICEF, and OECD. In recent years these have resulted in producing special reports and representation at events which showcase HBSC’s data and expertise (e.g. WHO/HBSC International Report)
-keeping track of cultural and societal change impacting adolescent health throughout Europe and incorporate this in the study
This operating grant would help us further develop our priorities cooperating with other network members, specialist devolved centres and expert groups within the network.
The 2014 work programme focuses on identified areas for development within our organisation’s main priorities resulting in improved scientific quality and societal relevance of the study.
1. Network functioning:targeting HBSC members
A. To strengthen the network organisational infrastructure
-succession plan/roadmap for leadership roles within network
-editorial process/team for International Report
B. To improve collaboration within HBSC
-recommend and implement changes within collaborative platform to maximize network communication
-implement new HBSC identity guidelines, offer training and produce HBSC brand guidebook
As a result, we will achieve more efficient use of network resources and knowledge transfer within the network; and mentoring of future strategic leadership positions.
2. Production of science: strengthening capacity in survey methodology - targeting methodologists
-provide expert advice and assist DMC and teams during international data collection, cleaning and metadata documentation
-conduct a skills assessment on required methodological developments to address critical research questions and fulfill the needs of data users
-develop and implement a methods action plan (2014-2016) including for year 1:
1-year training programme for 1 methodologist per HBSC team (total 43) with at least 3 training sessions.
annual mentoring programme.
e-learning module to make resources permanently available
develop international HBSC Technical Series
Expected outcomes: improved methodology capacity and quality of data across Member States increasing the study’s ability to contribute, in a more sophisticated manner, to policy and scientific debates around adolescent health in Europe; to share and build expertise, foster professional development and build human capital.
3. Outreach: targeting stakeholders in EU
increase HBSC profile and access to generated data
plan publications’ strategy to expand the use of collected data
searchable membership database
production of dissemination resources
business intelligence on collaboration requests (Linked Project Registration) and public documents (HBSC Protocol/Terms of Reference) to improve accessibility and reach
create synergies between HBSC and various European programmes and surveys (survey meeting)
Expected outcomes: improved platform for public interaction; showcase expertise in the EU; stronger relations with partners and stakeholders; increased HBSC recognition/visibility.
Methods/Means: The ICC will coordinate appropriate committees and maximise opportunities to advance deliverables, e.g. a special meeting of the CC to develop #1A and #2. The Google Apps platform will be exploited to collect and disseminate information and to enable online training of members throughout the EU. Relevant experts will be invited to the outlined professional development in #2. Skills assessments for #2 will be conducted through online consultation and discussion sessions at bi-annual meetings. Special interviews and questionnaires will be distributed to identify resources for training, capacity building and knowledge transfer opportunities. The HBSC website will prominently feature #3, i.e. dissemination resources: 4 e-newsletters and HBSC factsheets, 12 interactive web based visualisations, public version of HBSC Terms of Reference and Ambassador Programme for members to showcase data/materials from grant at conferences. Printed versions of all materials will be widely available for mailing and distribution at conferences, events. Regular updates will be shared via e-mail and social platforms (# 1-3).
Ethical aspects: Data used will have respected the ethics principles prevailing in individual data collection (principle of voluntariness;informed consent; anonymisation of data). Research reports, materials and data connected with the research will be duly preserved and archived. Access to the membership database will be subject to standard access rules rules in research.