Core Research Projects


We partner with communities to study how their investments in healthy youth development reduce negative health outcomes for young people and promote their well-being. 

Since 1996, HYD-PRC investigators have led a series of 5-year adolescent health research projects, including significant analyses of statewide and national youth surveys such as the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), Monitoring the Future survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), and the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS). We not only “crunch the numbers:” we team up with youth-serving organizations in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota to test and improve the HYD programs and services we innovate. 

Current Core Research

TALK: Toolkit for Adolescent Care supports primary care clinicians in providing their adolescent patients with high-quality preventive care that addresses psychosocial and sexual health topics. Implemented and tested in primary care clinics in greater Minnesota, and building on the HYD - PRC’s earlier CASH study (revealing that many parents and teens want to talk with their primary care clinicians about these topics but lack the opportunity), TALK features three components:

  1. Training for clinicians in communication strategies for addressing sensitive topics, using a framework called SUPPORT & GUIDE. This training underscores that how something is said in conversation with adolescents often matters more than what is said, especially when trying to facilitate behavior change with patients (or their families) who are resistant to making healthy choices.
  2. Resources for clinicians, in the form of one-page TALK Tools. These user-friendly sheets provide information, resources, and talking points to support clinicians (and parents) in their conversations with adolescents on psychosocial or sexual health topics.
  3. Standardizing adolescent-friendly clinic practices such as time alone between an adolescent and their clinician, and sending a “welcome to adolescent care” letter to adolescents and parents before preventive visits to help them know what to expect during adolescent preventive visits. 

Contact Christopher Mehus, PhD at [email protected]

Past Core Research


Partnering for Healthy Student Outcomes (PHSO) 2014-2019

The Partnering for Healthy Student Outcomes (PHSO) program investigated the effectiveness of an evidence-based social emotional learning (SEL) program for middle school students that aimed to improve health, social, and academic outcomes. It augmented the SEL program with an innovative teacher professional development (PD) model to broaden teachers’ capacity to incorporate HYD into their strategies for connecting with and engaging their students in learning. Relevant publications note that strengthening bonds between students and teachers, and between students and their parents can reduce bullying and encourage HYD in under-resourced contexts.


¡Encuentro! 2009-2014

¡Encuentro!, enhanced healthy sexual decision-making among 11-14 year old Latino teens through culturally relevant teen-parent activities designed to increase pro-social supports and healthy behaviors. We partnered with Latino youth and their families to develop and evaluate efforts to increase Latino adolescents' life skills, connections with caring adults, and support for adopting healthy behaviors. Topics included cultural identity and cultural pride, positive family connectedness and teen-parent communication, puberty and sexuality education, and youth life skills. 

Lead Peace

Lead Peace 2005-2009

Lead Peace was a school-based service-learning program aimed at preventing violence and promoting academic success among middle school students. It created opportunities for young people to practice social and emotional skills; build caring relationships with peers and adults; and gain real-world experience in school and community leadership. Lead Peace was a partnership between the Minneapolis Public Schools, Hennepin County's Department of Research, Planning, and Development, the HYD - PRC, and the School of Nursing.  

Prime Time

Prime Time 2001-2005

This clinic-linked youth development intervention aimed to improve adolescent sexual health outcomes. The program focused on building the strengths that protect youth from risky behaviors (such as pregnancy or early drop out) through social and emotional skills for healthy living. Prime Time engaged teens in monthly one-on-one meetings with case managers for 18 months, and provided structured weekly opportunities for four months to serve as leaders in a peer health educator group. 

Talk Logo