Because we’ve collected so much information from so many people, over so long, there are lots of different questions we can look at. In order to answer these questions, it take a lot of time and budget, so we split them into our “sub-studies”.
On this page:
SCAMP – The Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phones (main study)
CLUE – Cognitive DeveLopment in the Urban Environment (sub-study)
SPA COVID – Sleep and Physical Activity COVID study
Qualitative COVID Mental Health Study
SCAMP (main study)
SCAMP is the over-arching study, which started in 2014 when we visited 6,900 pupils in year 7 at 39 schools across Greater London. They participated in our study and we have been following up with them where possible every 2 years since. We have been collecting information on a whole range of things including: mental and physical health, brain function, digital technology use (e.g. smartphone use, social media engagement and video gaming); demographics; Social Economic Status (e.g. parental education, parental occupation, and area-level deprivation index derived from participant’s address); lifestyle and environmental factors (e.g. smoking, diet, substance use); and physical and mental health. Some people even gave us urine and saliva samples which we have used to look at hormone levels. They also completed some physical tests like grip and pinch, and lung function.
The Cognitive deveLopment in the Urban Environment study.
Young people are increasingly exposed to air pollution and noise in an urban environment, and we already know these ‘exposures’ (mainly arising from transport and industry) are bad for our health, animals, and the environment. However, their psychological effects are not yet fully understood!
CLUE is a sub-study of SCAMP investigating whether exposure to air pollution and noise influences adolescent cognition and mental health. 200 SCAMP participants took part in an in-depth ‘personal monitoring’ study where their exposure to pollution, noise, and geographical locations as measured for 48 hours. We also collected biological samples (saliva and urine) to look at ‘biomarkers’ of exposure to air pollution and noise; these are signs in the body that it has been exposed to certain influences. In this case, we are looking for microparticles of tyre-wear and pollutants, and indicators of stress, inflammation, and neuronal (brain cell) damage.
Based on measurements made in the personal monitoring study and other information about where people live and spend their time, scientists from Imperial College London and Leicester University have ‘modelled’ (or predicted) how much each individual in the SCAMP study will have been exposed to from year 7 to year 11. Scientists are also looking for these ‘biomarkers’ of exposure in biological samples.
BASS is the study that uses the saliva and urine samples we collected during two visits and looks at
In the saliva and urine collected we can assess puberty onset and progression. We’ve seen that the ratio of two hormones (luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)). We’re looking to see if the this ratio differes between girls and boys and if so how it does across puberty.
Using the saliva samples we can look at the amount of a stress hormone called cortisol. This is helping understand the potential effects of stress on brain function and any impacts with puberty and mobile phone use.
The urine samples can also be analysed for a chemical called cotinine, which a product formed after the chemical nicotine enters the body. This helps us to understand if a person has been exposed to tobacco smoke. Additionally, in the SCAMP study age-range, assessment of cotinine in urine will also be useful in identifying early smoking behaviour, which participants may not necessarily want to self-report
SCAMP collects detailed “anthropometric” measurements to assess obesity, e.g. BMI, waist circumference and body fat percentage. Recent research has also shown that urinary creatinine concentrations may be used to assess BMI in children (Wang et al, 2015). In addition, emerging evidence in the field of metabolomics suggests use of other urinary markers to further our mechanistic understanding of obesity, including through urinary glycoproteins (Elliott et al, 2015), as well as endocrine disrupting phthalates (Teitelbaum et al, 2012). The analysis of SCAMP’s anthropometric measurements together with creatinine (measured alongside cotinine to assess tobacco exposure, see above) could help unravel the importance of diet, environment, and lifestyle and their interactions in relation to childhood obesity.
SPA COVID (sub-study)
This study looks to understand and monitor the type, amount, length and intensities of daily physical activity, as well as the timing, efficiency and length of your sleep. We are looking to find out which environmental and individual factors may influence your daily exercise and sleep, and therefore may be affecting your physical and mental health.
In the SCAMP study, sleep timing, duration and quality have been measured using self-reported questionnaire. We found that night-time use of at least one screen-based media devices, mobile phones or televisions was associated with poor sleep quality in all aspects, including experiencing difficulty falling asleep and waking up too early. Night-time mobile phone and television use was associated with insufficient sleep duration on weekdays. Use mobile phones in a room with light were associated with insufficient sleep and later sleep midpoint on weekends. Another study nested in the SCAMP study suggested that high level of digital technology use is associated with insufficient sleep, and insufficient sleep time is associated with higher risk of obesity.
Qualitative COVID Mental Health Study (sub-study)
We are currently exploring novel co-produced creative methods combined with a co-produced interview technique with our Young Persons Advisory Group to understand the impact of COVID and associated lockdown measures on young people’s mental health.