Publications in The Lancet

The Centre for Adolescent Health has published/accepted 9 Lancet papers since May!

It is with great enthusiasm that we congratulate the brilliant minds at the Centre for Adolescent Health and our network of collaborators for achieving an impressive total of 9 papers being published or accepted in one of The Lancet journals in as many weeks. We initially had 3 papers accepted and 1 published within a single week, but week by week, it then just kept going!

The Lancet is among the most established of medical journals, celebrating its 200th anniversary in October 2023. It has a highly rigorous peer-review process, and a reputation for fierce editorial independence. The Lancet weekly has an impact factor of 168, indicating its tremendous influence on the scientific community. Beyond promoting global health, The Lancet has strongly supported child and adolescent health research globally.

Our warmest congratulations to all, especially to our PhD students Dongmei Luo, Karly Cini, and Farnaz Sabet.


  1. Azzopardi PS, Kerr J, Francis K, Sawyer SM, Kennedy E, Steer A, Graham S, Viner R, Ward J, Hennegan J, Duc Pham M, Habito M, Kurji J, Cini K, Beeson J, Hay S, Patton GC. GBD 2019 Child and Adolescent Communicable Disease Collaborators (2023). The unfinished agenda of communicable diseases among children and adolescents before the COVID-19 pandemic, 1990-2019: a systematic analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Lancet (London, England)402(10398), 313–335.

This paper used Global Burden of Disease data to provide a global picture of infectious diseases in 0-24 year olds, highlighting how it has changed over the past 30 years. In essence, it signals major improvements in the health of under 5 year olds, with a growing contribution of infectious diseases in 10-24 year olds. A collaboration with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, it was led by authors at the Centre for Adolescent Health, MCRI.

  1. Calais-Ferreira, L., Young, J. T., Francis, K., Willoughby, M., Pearce, L., Clough, A., Spittal, M. J., Brown, A., Borschmann, R., & Sawyer, S. M., Patton G.C., Kinner S.A. (2023). Non-communicable disease mortality in young people with a history of contact with the youth justice system in Queensland, Australia: a retrospective, population-based cohort study. The Lancet. Public health8(8), e600–e609.

This paper used data from a unique NHMRC-funded cohort that Prof Stuart Kinner has formed of 25 years of follow-up data of young people in contact with the youth justice system in Queensland, linked to national mortality databases. Led by the postdoc, Lucas Calais-Ferreira, the research found young people with a history of contact with the youth justice system died at a rate more than four times higher than those of the same age and sex in the general Australian population. Those most at risk of dying prematurely were Indigenous children, males, and those whose first contact with the youth justice system was before they were 14 years old. These high levels of largely-preventable diseases and avoidable premature deaths indicates inadequate health care both in youth detention and in the community. There was also a piece published in The Conversation (

  1. Pham, M. D., Sawyer, S. M., Agius, P. A., Kennedy, E. C., Ansariadi, A., Kaligis, F., Wiguna, T., Wulan, N. R., Devaera, Y., Medise, B. E., Riyanti, A., Wiweko, B., Cini, K. I., Tran, T., Fisher, J., Luchters, S., & Azzopardi, P. S. (2023). Foregone health care in adolescents from school and community settings in Indonesia: a cross-sectional study. The Lancet regional health. Southeast Asia13, 100187.

Funded by a grant from the Australia-Indonesia Centre (Azzopardi, Sawyer), this study of over 2000 adolescents was a collaboration between MCRI, the Burnett Institute and Universitas Indonesia. It focussed on help-seeking behaviour in young Indonesians, showing that in the past year, 1 in 4 young Indonesians had not sought health care when they thought they should have (foregone healthcare). This included mental health, a topic that has been highly neglected in low- and middle-income countries, but which has become far more salient following the pandemic.

  1. Wang, H., Song, Y., Ma, J., Ma, S., Shen, L., Huang, Y., Thangaraju, P., Basharat, Z., Hu, Y., Lin, Y., Peden, A. E., Sawyer, S. M., Zhang, H., & Zou, Z. (2023). Burden of non-communicable diseases among adolescents and young adults aged 10-24 years in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, 1990-2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. The Lancet. Child & adolescent health7(9), 621–635.

A collaboration with the Institute for Child and Adolescent Health at Peking University, China’s leading institute for child and adolescent health, this paper was led by an associate professor who spent a year’s post-doc at the Centre for Adolescent Health, MCRI. Rather than being a collaboration with IHME, the analyses used publicly available Global Burden of Disease data to bring attention to the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (relative to all-cause burden) in the Asia Pacific region, notwithstanding that the actual burden of NCDs had declined by over a third in the SE Asia region and by 40% in the Western Pacific region. Deaths decreased as a country’s socioeconomic position advanced.

  1. Tolstrup, J. S., Kruckow, S., Becker, U., Andersen, O., Sawyer, S. M., Katikireddi, S. V., & Møller, S. P. (2023). Socioeconomic inequalities in alcohol-related harm in adolescents: a prospective cohort study of 68,299 Danish 15-19-year-olds. EClinicalMedicine62, 102129.

This study used data from Denmark’s National Youth Cohort and linked hospital records found that alcohol related harm is more common in socioeconomically disadvantaged adolescents despite similar levels of alcohol consumption, regardless of differences in drinking pattern or substance use. Future preventive strategies should prioritise young adolescents, including those who are most disadvantaged.

  1. Cini K, Wulan N, Dumuid D, Nurjannah Triputri A, Li L, Priambodo D, Sameve G, Camellia A, Al-Eryani S, Francis KL, Sawyer SM, Patton GC, Ansariadi A, Azzopardi PS. Towards responsive policy and actions to address non-communicable disease risks amongst adolescents in Indonesia: Insights from key stakeholders. The Lancet Regional Health – South East Asia 2023 (in press).

Led by a PhD student at the Centre for Adolescent Health, MCRI, and set in Indonesia, this study aimed to understand how policies and actions can address non-communicable disease risks (tobacco smoking, inadequate physical activity, and diet) for adolescents, as well as how young people can be meaningfully involved in these policy deliberations. It found a mismatch in policy, that remains overwhelmingly focussed on communicable diseases rather than NCDs, with few of the existing initiatives targeting adolescents. It also found that adolescent services rarely addressed NCD risks.

  1. Luo, D., Ma, N., Liu, Y., Yan, X., Ma, J., Song, Y., Patton, G. C., & Sawyer, S. M. (2023). Long-term trends and urban-rural disparities in the physical growth of children and adolescents in China: an analysis of five national school surveys over three decades. The Lancet. Child & adolescent health, S2352-4642(23)00175-X. Advance online publication.

This paper (accompanied by a highly positive invited commentary from an academic in the UK), is a further collaboration with colleagues at Peking University’s Institute of Child and Adolescent Health. It was led by a master’s student who is now undertaking her PhD at the Centre for Adolescent Health, MCRI. Utilising highly complex analyses of 314,000 children and adolescents over three decades, we showed that school-aged children and adolescents in China have increased height and BMI, with less disparity between urban and rural locations. We have also shown that overweight and obesity are as significant a problem in rural areas as urban areas., and more substantial problems than undernutrition. There has yet to be a policy shift to respond to this, especially in rural areas.

  1. Caroline Homer, Amanuel Abajobir, Kokila Agarwal, Rina Agustina, Fadia Albuhairan, Shabina Ariff, Narendra Kumar Arora, Richmond Aryeetey, Per Ashorn, Peter Azzopardi, Oliva Bazirete, Jay Berkley, Gary L Darmstadt, Kathryn Dewey, Trevor Duke, Faysal El Kak, Fyezah Jehan, Caroline Kabiru, Nuray Kanbur, Betty Kirkwood, Jonathan D Klein, Daniel Martinez Garcia, Sjoerd Postma, Linda Richter, Jane Sandall, Auliya Suwantika, Nizam Uddin Ahmed, Peter Waiswa, Dilys Walker, and Stanley Zlotkin. Transforming women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health and wellbeing through primary health care. (2023). Transforming women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health and wellbeing through primary health care. Lancet (London, England), S0140-6736.

As a member of the WHO committee known as STAGE, the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of Experts for maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition, Peter Azzopardi contributed to this comment on the significance of primary health care.

  1. Sabet F, Prost A, Rahmanian S, Al Qudah H, Nogueira Cardoso M, Carlin J, Sawyer SM, Patton GC. The forgotten girls: the state of evidence for health interventions for pregnant adolescents and their newborns in low-and middle-income countries. The Lancet 2023 (in press).

Led by Dr Farnaz Sabet, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne (a Rhodes scholar, and top Monash University medical graduate), her first paper from her doctoral studies is based on a systematic review of 49,000 papers that set out to describe the progress that has been made in health interventions for pregnant girls. Sadly, it found huge neglect of the 21 million adolescents who become pregnant in low and middle income countries each year (hence the title ‘the forgotten girls’) as only 61 intervention studies were identified over the past 20 years. This paper, together with an invited commentary, will be published on Oct 12th to coincide with a special symposium on adolescent pregnancy that has been arranged at the 3-yearly International Obstetrics and Gynecology conference (and where both Dr Sabet and Prof Sawyer will speak).

The health themes within these papers span communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases (including mental health, substance use and nutrition) as well as adolescent pregnancy. A number are globally oriented (#1), while others focus on the Asia Pacific region [Indonesia (#3,6), China (#4,7)], low- and middle-income countries as a group (#8,9) and Australia (#2). Our group led 5 of these papers (#1,2,3,6,9) but all of these papers reflect collaborations with other local, national or international researchers. Three of the papers were deemed sufficiently important for the Lancet to commission an accompanying commentary (#1,7,9).  Five of the nine papers were led by PhD students (#6,7,9) or post-doctoral students (#2,3). Given this influence, it is perhaps not surprising that Professor Susan Sawyer has been invited to attend the 200th anniversary celebration of the Lancet at the British Library on October 19th 2023.

Congratulations again to all our amazing staff and collaborators on this outstanding achievement.



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