Work experience at DECIPHer: A young person’s view of public health research


Matthew Clifford, aged 15, recently completed a one-week work experience placement at DECIPHer. Here he writes about his time at DECIPHer and how it changed his views on public health.

This week I have had a great chance to do my work experience with the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, or DECIPHer for short.  DECIPHer is a research centre that has gathered professionals to deal with creating and evaluating different intervention schemes aimed to help improve young people’s health.

First of all I didn’t care about public health because I thought it didn’t concern me. At DECIPHer, I found out that public health deals with issues like tobacco, obesity, mental health and a lot more. During this week I have learnt a lot more about public health and have realised it affects everyone.

DECIPHer is running lots of different projects at the moment that have changed my opinion on what public health is. These include the Activity and Healthy Eating in Adolescence project, which aims to encourage more physical activity (exercise) and healthy eating in teenagers. I believe this is important because obesity is a big issue that needs to be addressed as it affects a lot of people in this day and age.

        Work experience placements help strengthen the ongoing relationship between DECIPHer and local schools

DECIPHer also runs a study called Kids, Adults Together, or KAT for short, which focuses on strengthening the relationships between families. This can help discourage children from drinking alcohol at a young age. Alcohol is very dangerous if you drink too much of it, and can have long-term effects including affecting brain development and liver damage.

DECIPHer also runs a young people’s group called ALPHA, which has monthly meetings. In these meetings they help with research projects that may affect children and young people by making suggestions on how the research could be improved or made more child-friendly. I think that young people deserve the right to have an input in research that will involve or affect them.

Now that my work experience placement is over, I am planning to spend some of my own time learning more about public health issues such as how the use of drugs and alcohol is becoming more frequent in teenagers and what is being done to combat this.  What I have learnt this week has changed my opinion on public health, I now realise how important public health is and that it affects everyone.

Matthew Clifford is currently studying at Tonypandy Community College.

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