Launch announcement: New SMaRteN Student Cohorts project will coordinate longitudinal wellbeing research across UK universities and support researchers to setup their own cohort studies
The SMaRteN Student Cohorts website has been launched!
There is limited robust data about mental health and wellbeing of university students. We don’t know what are the rates of mental health problems, what are the risk and protective factors, and what are the best strategies to intervene, to prevent, to detect difficulties, and to provide support. Longitudinal cohort studies are becoming a popular research design and UK universities are beginning to take advantage of this method to tackle the problem of wellbeing among the student population. If implemented effectively, cohorts allow us to efficiently follow up a population over time, to understand changes in wellbeing, to link with external data sources, and to embed trials within the cohort for rapid evaluation.
A White Rose collaboration of researchers from the universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Sheffield, and York have been funded by the SMaRteN network to coordinate cross-institutional student cohorts. We will establish cross-sector consensus on standardised procedures and measures for cohort studies. We will also explore opportunities for data linkage and data sharing agreements for accessing pooled data from multiple cohorts. Importantly, we will provide resources and practical support that will make it easier for researchers across the UK to setup their own student wellbeing cohorts.
Why setup a student wellbeing cohort?
Having more cross-sector standardisation on the procedures and measures that cohorts use will improve comparability – if multiple universities are asking students the same questions at the same timepoints then it will be easier to explore findings from a range of institutions and analyse pooled data. This will also allow us to answer important questions about student wellbeing and enables universities to learn from each other’s wellbeing strategies.
Open access Cohort Starter Kit is now available
The website contains the Cohort Starter Kit. It is a suite of documents containing standardised study protocols, ethics proformas, and participant-facing documents for researchers to adapt to their own institution. The starter kit is free and available to anyone interested in setting up a wellbeing cohort of students at a UK university. You can request your copy by following the link below.
Join Cohort Clinics to receive setup guidance
We will run virtual Cohort Clinics every two months to provide guidance and support to those setting up their own student cohort. We encourage both researchers and students to join. The first clinic launches on Monday 16ndAugust. Brighten your Monday morning by joining us!
How can I get involved?
Head over to our project website using the link below and check out the example Cohort Starter Kit documents. Complete the contact form to request your kit and receive announcements about upcoming Cohort Clinics.
“We look forward to collaborating with researchers, students, and administrators to develop a student cohort infrastructure across UK universities. “ - Prof Dean McMillan
Go to: www.sites.google.com/york.ac.uk/student-research
You can also contact Paul and Dean directly if you'd like to discuss things further and find out more.
Research Fellow & PhD candidate, University of York
Prof Dean McMillan
Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of York and Hull York Medical School
We are using this blog to help connect stakeholders across Higher Education interested in student mental health. If you have a project you are working on or an idea you'd like to develop, why not write your own blog post for us?