The Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU) is a specialist research unit that conducts research on all age groups of children from the early years to the late adolescence when young people are embracing on young adulthood.

Our mission is to undertake research relevant to the promotion of health among children and adolescents at local, national and international levels. The health behaviour, health and well-being of children and adolescents are monitored and studied in the context of:

  • Developmental issues associated with puberty
  • Social inequalities - family, school, peers, neighbourhood, gender, age, social-economic conditions
  • Local and national services and policies
  • School as a setting for health promotion
  • International comparisons

The aim of CAHRU is to conduct research which is scientifically robust, theoretically based, and of strategic significance and to disseminate it widely to key research user groups.

CAHRU is also the International Coordinating Centre of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC), a World Health Organization Cross-national Study in 45 countries. Dr Jo Inchley, is the elected International Coordinator of HBSC (2015-2019) taking over from Professor Candace Currie CAHRU Director, who was International Coordinator of HBSC (1995-2015).


CAHRU was established as a specialist research unit by Candace Currie and her research team at the University of Edinburgh in 2000. The Unit moved to the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews in 2011.

CAHRU research projects cover a breadth of work from local to international. They address research questions that are theoretical, methodological, and empirical in nature, as well as related to practice and policy issues. There is a strong emphasis on application in all the research at CAHRU and dissemination activities are designed to reach policy makers and programme developers, schools, parents, carers and young people, as well as academic audiences.


CAHRU can provide expertise and consultancy opportunities in the following areas.

Research Design

  • Quantitative research
    Survey questionnaire design; survey sampling methodology; basic to advanced statistical analysis; reporting of data: descriptive and analytic.
  • Qualitative research
    Interviewing; focus group discussions; qualitative data analysis; reporting of data: descriptive and analytic.


  • Evaluation of School; community; national intervention policies;
    needs assessments; health profiling; development of tools for process and outcome evaluation; partnership working.

Resource Development

  • Policy briefings, classroom resources, training materials for educators and health professionals and data visualisation


  • Research project development, coordination of international research networks and working with international agencies.