Adolescent Well-Being Gap Maps: What We Know and Opportunities for Future Research

Prerna Banati, Cristina Bacalso

Abstract


Designing and delivering effective programs for adolescents and youth requires high-quality evidence that is easily available to decision makers. Yet while adolescence as a unique development period has gained policy attention in recent years, and there has been a growth in research, priorities for research investment remain unclear. This paper provides a panoramic view of adolescent development research to review what evidence exists and how evidence is mapped. Our approach interrogated studies mapped by evidence maps (including the subset evidence gap maps or EGMs). Our findings have implications for future directions of research on positive youth development (PYD) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs): The analysis showed that while most evidence maps exist in the adolescent protection, safety, and security domain, most studies focus on outcomes related to well-being and social and emotional health. There are gaps in demographic groupings and contexts studied. For example, while gender and sex inequities were the most prevalent in the studies identified, though seen in less than 1/5 of the studies analyzed, disability appears in only 3%. Housing, participation, and information communication technologies are researched relatively rarely. Rigorous research in conflict or humanitarian settings is absent. Additionally, while most impact evaluations are conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Latin America, the Middle East and North America were poorly represented regions. This article reflects on the state of the evidence, argues for a more thoughtful approach to equity in adolescent research, and calls for a stronger link between research, policy, and practice in LMICs.

Keywords


evidence map; adolescent; equity; systematic reviews; impact evaluations

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2021.1025

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