Is the world listening? Tackling the chronic health issues of adolescents

Academics from a range of disciplines joined forces with a composer and a film director to create the eight-minute audio-visual presentation that will to coincide with the inaugural conference of the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) at York.

Funded by C2D2 and the Wellcome Trust, the pioneering collaboration aims to raise issues faced by young people across the world suffering chronic conditions such as mental illness, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, overweight/obesity and epilepsy. All have a reciprocal relationship to biological, social and psychological processes and growth in adolescence with consequently profound effects on adolescent sufferers’ lives.

A production team led by Dr Amanda Mason-Jones, Senior Lecturer in Global Public Health, involved  researchers at the University’s Departments of Health Sciences Theatre, Film and Television; Music; Sociology; English and Related Literature and the Centre for Applied Human Rights, as well as composer Bartek Walus, film director Nik Morris and actress Katie-Marie Armstrong.

They will showcase the production in the 3Sixty space, a black box with 360 degree projection and sound in the Ron Cooke Hub on the University’s Heslington East campus expansion. The team has constructed a narrative from the primary accounts of young people that is presented through voice and a specially commissioned piece of music. Visual displays portray the challenges facing young people and also their strength and resilience to overcome them. The narrative is interspersed with sonified data on the global chronic health of adolescents. The installation will be used as a platform to engage with young people and to secure funding for further research.

The team wanted to develop an innovative method to convey epidemiological health data through sound, vision and narrative, to raise the profile of the global chronic health needs of adolescents and to provide a test case for the potential benefits of applying a creative to tackling health issues.

Appropriate, sensitive and focused health provision remains a challenge worldwide. It is therefore important to raise the issue, to challenge the assumptions and to begin to give a voice to young people.

Dr Amanda Mason-Jones

Dr Mason-Jones said: “Chronic disease in young people is an issue that is often overlooked in medicine. Data is surprisingly patchy and often comes from a range of sources. The prevalence of such conditions varies widely. There has been very little research done on this aspect of health and well-being despite the evidence that young people with chronic conditions are more likely to be involved in risky behaviours which can compound their disadvantage and health outcomes still further.

“Schooling, family and social life may all be thwarted by a chronic condition in adolescence. Those affected may experience chronic pain, repeated hospitalisation or have limited mobility while many commonly used medicines can have adverse side-effects. Appropriate, sensitive and focused health provision remains a challenge worldwide. It is therefore important to raise the issue, to challenge the assumptions and to begin to give a voice to young people.”

The team also included Dr Antonina Mikocka-Walus (Health Sciences); Dr Sandra Pauletto and Patrick Titley (Theatre, Film and Television); Dr Jez Wells (Music); Dr Darren Reed (Sociology); Dr Alice Hall (English and Related Literature) and Juliana Mensah (the Centre for Applied Human Rights.

The installation will showcase from 25 September to coincide with the inaugural Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders Conference at York and will continue till 9 October 2013 before moving on to other venues.


Notes to editors:

  • For more information about the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) at York, please visit
  • For more information about the inaugural C2D2 conference, please visit
  • The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.
  • Tickets for the free event ‘Jane’s story: 3Sixty installation’ are available from