Improving the mental health of children and young people with long term conditions: Linked evidence syntheses

South West PeninsulaMental Health
Start Date: 1 Jan 2016

Project summary


Many children and young people with a long term physical health condition (LTC) will also experience feelings of depression and anxiety as well as displaying disruptive behaviour. These difficulties may not only affect the young person s development and quality of life but can also have a negative impact on the treatment and management of the LTC.

Project aims

  1. Assess how well treatments aimed at improving the mental health of children and young people with LTCs work,
  2. Assess whether treatments are good value for money and
  3. Explore the factors that might help or prevent the treatments from working.

Design and methods used

  1. Systematic reviews. The researchers will carefully search for all the available studies to combine their findings in order to try and find out which treatments work better at reducing symptoms of psychological distress in children and young people with LTCs and which provide the best value for money. They will also look for research papers that describe the experience of having an LTC and poor mental health among children and young people receiving interventions to treat poor mental health, their parents and families, as these are likely to provide pointers to things that may help or hinder mental health treatments for this group.
  2. The findings from the two reviews will be brought together to map out possible links between the treatments and their effects on mental health, gaps in the evidence and factors that seem to enhance or limit the success of interventions.
  3. The findings will be discussed with children and young people who have LTCs and their families, and the practitioners who work with them to ensure that they make sense. We will do this via a mixture of face to face discussion with individuals and groups and also email to achieve a widespread distribution of different views and experiences. We hope that by bringing together all the results in a single piece of work we will be able to make a helpful contribution to knowledge in this area.

Patient and public involvement:

The NIHR CLAHRC team will convene a group of between 5 and 8 children and young people with LTCs and symptoms of mental ill health (C&YP Research Advisory Group). Involvement will focus on the three key stages of an evidence synthesis project at which involvement is most valuable,

  1. Once funding is in place, but while the protocol is still being finalised, to help refine review questions, identify sources of grey literature and specify search terms,
  2. To consider the transferability of preliminary results and
  3. During the preparation of project outputs.


Dr Jo Thompson Coon