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Youth Researchers in Trial Vitality

Young people aged 10-24 years now constitute a quarter of the world’s population. This number will increase at least until 2040 in Africa following substantial improvements in child survival. Nine out of ten adolescents live in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Zimbabwe.

What is the YRA? Ensuring the voices of young people are present in matters directly affecting their health in general, and more specifically, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is crucial. It is increasingly recognised that they should be involved as research partners in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of interventions intended to meet their health needs. Capacity building and training of young people in how to conduct ethically and scientifically sound research is key to meaningful involvement of young people as equal partners.The YRA experience crosses over three ground-breaking trials, including VITALITY.

Recently, (October 2021) four youth researchers Chelsea, Ropafadzo, Tinashe N and Tinashe M, attached to the VITALITY trial for three months under the mentorship of Dr. Victoria Simms and Dr. Nyasha Dzavakwa, conducted a qualitative study that sought to explore the experiences of participants enrolled in the VITALITY study.

Dr. Nyasha Dzavakwa reported: "This included participants’ experiences with participation in the trial, measurement procedures, pill burden and staff behaviour. 20 participants enrolled in the VITALITY trial were interviewed and data was analysed using thematic analysis. Overall, majority of the participants had positive experiences with participation in the trial, measurement procedures and had been treated exceptionally well by the study team."

"A few participants highlighted the discomfort and pain they felt with the blood draws and the coldness they felt during the scanning process. Findings from the YRs study have helped inform areas of improvement which have been implemented by the study team to help improve the experiences of participants enrolled in VITALITY."

The YRA have made significant contribution to the project's public engagement activities and capacity building. The young people involved have worked hard and have exhibited many great qualities. We feel sure that we are looking at the scientists of the future!

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