What's next for CATS?

In 2024, we are catching up with all our participants again, who are now 20-21 years old, as they are settling into the early stages of their careers or higher education.

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A unique longitudinal study following over 1,200 Melbourne students from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood.

CATS is interested in what gives young people a healthy start to adolescence and how the experiences of young people and their families as they move from primary to secondary school and beyond impact their wellbeing. We contact our participants every year to ask about their health, interests, studies or work, and how they are managing the many transitions occurring throughout adolescence and young adulthood.

The goal of CATS is to follow this important group of young people from year 3 into high school and beyond. This will allow CATS to lay a foundation for educational and health policy and practice across these important middle years and into adolescence.

The information we collected in the first ten years of CATS (Years 3 - 12) has told us a lot about how students cope with moving from primary to high school and through their high school years. We now have a much better understanding of how health, emotional wellbeing and academic engagement change during this time, and are interested in how these trends continue into adulthood. Check out our News page to find out what we've learnt so far.

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What is CATS investigating?

The focus of the study is on health and emotional development through the middle years (8-14 years). We are also interested in the experience of young people and their families as they move from adolescence into young adulthood. We are looking at how these experiences may impact their health, wellbeing, school or work engagement and academic outcomes.

The transition through the middle years brings changes in social and emotional development. It also brings changes in engagement with family and school. These changes are associated with a rise in emotional and behavioural problems. Check out our Publications page to find out more.

Why is CATS important?

Adolescence is a phase of life that has been traditionally neglected in research and policy. CATS has the potential to identify young people who are most at risk as they pass through puberty, the middle years and into older adolescence. We also hope to identify factors that may improve health and academic outcomes during this time. The middle years are a time in which young people need strong social and educational support systems. These systems are particularly important for young people with vulnerabilities.

CATS is a unique study. No previous study in the world has tracked such a large cohort of young people from primary school right through puberty and now into adulthood. This is important because we now understand that early puberty is linked to adolescent wellbeing.

CATS will help determine how to best help young people manage the transition through puberty and the middle years of school. Improving our understanding of the many influences on social, emotional and behavioural development throughout childhood, adolescence and young adulthood will help us identify when and how to promote the best health and emotional adjustment during this transition. This will set them on a healthy course into adulthood.

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We caught up with some of our participants to celebrate 10 years of CATS in 2022. Check it out!
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