People powered research: what do communities identify as important for happy and healthy children and young people? A multi-disciplinary community research priority setting exercise in the City of Bradford, United Kingdom (UK)

Publication authors

Christopher Cartwright, Aamnah Rahman, Shahid Islam, Bridget Lockyer, Euroline Roper, Meegan Worcester, Melany Zarate & Rosemary McEachan on behalf of the Happy and Healthy Children Steering Group



Involving communities in research priority setting can increase the relevance and efficiency of research, leading to better health outcomes. However these exercises often lack clarity in how communities are involved and the extent to which priorities are acted upon is unclear. Seldom-heard groups, for example ethnic minorities may experience barriers to participation. We report methods and outcomes of an inclusive co-produced community research priority setting exercise within the multicultural and deprived city of Bradford, UK. The aim was to identify priorities for keeping children happy and healthy and was undertaken by the Born in Bradford (BiB) research programme to inform future research agendas.


A 12 member multi-disciplinary, multi-ethnic community steering group led the process using a modified James Lind Alliance approach between December 2018-March 2020. Research priorities were collected through a widely distributed paper and online survey. Respondents were asked to list three important things to keep children i) happy, ii) healthy and what needs to change to improve either health or happiness. Free text data were coded iteratively by community researchers, and shared priorities were co-produced in a series of workshops and meetings with the community steering group and community members.


Five hundred eighty-eight respondents to the survey identified 5748 priorities, which were coded into 22 themes. These covered a range of individual, social and wider socioeconomic, environmental and cultural priorities. Diet/nutrition and exercise were most commonly identified as important for health, including what needs to change to improve health. For happiness, home life and family relationships, listening to children, and education/activities were the most commonly identified. Community assets were identified as important to change for both health and happiness. From the survey response the steering group developed 27 research questions. There were mapped onto existing and planned research agendas within BiB.


Communities identified both structural and individual factors as important priorities for health and happiness. We demonstrate how communities can be involved in priority setting using a co-productive approach in the hope this can be used as a model for others. The resulting shared research agenda will shape future research to improve the health of families living in Bradford.