Public involvement

One of DECIPHer’s core values is that children, young people, and their carers and parents should be actively involved in the research process. Our research is undertaken with the public, rather than to or on them.

DECIPHer’s public involvement work centres on ALPHA, our research advisory group of young people aged 14-21. Young people learn through fun workshops on research and public health, to enable them to meaningfully advise on research. Their input helps ensure DECIPHer research is relevant to young people and their needs.

We also work with younger children, patients and service users, and other members of the public. Our full-time Involving Young People Research Officer coordinates public involvement across the research centre, and provides training and support for researchers and the public. The strategic direction of our public involvement work is overseen by a Public Involvement Steering Group, of academics and practitioners with expertise in public involvement.

What is ALPHA?

We’re a group of intelligent, honest individuals who can evaluate and develop research. We’re very welcoming and we promise we don’t bite! ALPHA

Why work with ALPHA?

Working with ALPHA can be of great benefit to your research. ALPHA members represent a broad range of young people, who are skilled at advising on public health research. ALPHA members’ unique expertise helps to ensure research is relevant, acceptable and of the highest quality.

The group is particularly experienced at advising on bid development, and funders value the involvement of young people. To read more about specific projects, see the case studies below.

Working with ALPHA was refreshing, inspiring and enjoyable. The quality of discussion was excellent, the questions pertinent and the critique of the report format/content incredibly valuable. Welsh Government officer, following work with ALPHA on the HBSC study

How can you work with ALPHA?

  1. Researchers on all DECIPHer-adopted projects relating to young people are automatically offered the opportunity to attend an ALPHA session, to discuss the research during bid development. Researchers on DECIPHer projects can receive additional input from the group but must cover costs for this. If ALPHA is involved at bid development stage, their time can be written into bids for research funding.
  2. If you want to work with ALPHA but DECIPHer adoption is not appropriate, it may be possible to with ALPHA as an outside organisation.  These decisions are made by DECIPHer on a case by case basis, and will depend on your target population and if the work is aligned to ALPHA’s purpose as a public health research advisory group.  All costs for working with ALPHA, pre- and post-bid, must be covered by the outside organisation. ALPHA has worked successfully with outside organisations on a variety of projects, including reviewing funding applications for the National Institute of Health Research, and working with the Welsh Government on the Health Behaviours in School Aged Children Survey.

For DECIPHer-adopted projects that do not involve young people, a meeting will be offered with the Public Involvement Officer to discuss public involvement. This may include working with researchers to decide who the appropriate public are, the purpose of public involvement, at which stages public involvement should be conducted during the project, and what associated costs should be included in a research bid.

 It was extremely useful to have this input from young people at the developmental stage. The feedback regarding young people’s views regarding the different age groups who use youth services and how this varies in different areas/contexts was useful. Researcher on health promotion in youth settings

To discuss working with ALPHA or learn more about the group, please contact Peter Gee, our Public Involvement Officer, on or 02920687218. For more information on DECIPHer adoption, please see our Working with DECIPHer page or contact Elizabeth Doe on

Very little effort was required from myself to acquire some valuable information. Little pain – plenty of gain. Researcher on the School Health Research Network

Photo of ALPHA

 ALPHA members in 2014