About the Study

Community-partnered research and advocacy focused on child health equity

Every child in our region is healthy, thriving, and achieving their academic goals.

We all know children and youth should thrive, but what does that mean?

The Pittsburgh Study is organized into three main strategies.

  • Partner with communities to identify strengths and assets
  • Develop and tailor evidence-based, community-informed interventions
  • Develop child health data hub

These strategies reflect shared principles in our commitment to child and youth thriving. These are the standards our community set for itself and the ones that the Study uses to guide research and advocacy.

We developed a community vision for thriving with people across many fields and county neighborhoods. Child thriving includes: Fun and Happiness, Safety, Vibrant Communities, Healthy Environments, Strong Minds and Bodies, Identity and Self-Worth, Caring Families and Relationships, and Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion.

The Pittsburgh Study brings community and academic partners together to learn about child health and thriving and address root causes of inequity. The Study develops and tests interventions at different developmental stages. The Study follows children and families in Allegheny County from before birth through high school. It is a space to build long-term relationships among people passionate about child and youth thriving. Community partners are compensated equitably, leadership is shared, and all members of the scientific teams share in decision making and moving discovery forward.

Age-Based Collaborations

Children and youth are growing and developing. Each stage–pregnancy, early childhood, early school age, middle childhood, and adolescence–has its own kind of thriving. Scientific teams co-led by academic researchers and community leaders develop, test, tailor, and advocate for programs that address the goals and priorities for children and youth. We focus on positive health outcomes (rather than disease and deficits). We promote health equity, especially race-based health equity.

Lean in

Academic and community scientists in partnership to address child thriving and health equity in Allegheny County

The Long-Term THRIVE Study

Every young person is different. Every young person deserves the tools, skills, and love needed to achieve their goals regardless of zip code and skin color. Whether joining the Study as an infant or as a teen, children and youth (and their families) are invited to be part of our Pittsburgh Study community.  Families respond to surveys (every six months or so) that ask about family strengths, hopefulness, social supports, and neighborhoods. 

This part of the study seeks to learn about the influences of structural racism, strengths developed in spite of discrimination, how to narrow racial gaps between white and Black children and youth, and potential areas for systems-level change. Caregivers and you will be compensated for sharing information with the Study about a child’s health and thriving and community factors.

One piece of the long-term study is to look for “bright spots” or places where poor outcomes would be expected, but we find good ones. Bright spots highlight local wisdom in the face of adversity. The children, youth, and parents of neighborhoods and communities of Allegheny County have a great deal to teach each other and the world! This is a chance to share what works and make lasting change Community experiences are the foundation for the health of our communities.

Cross-cutting Scientific Committees

Where children live, what services and information they receive, and the quality of their environments strongly influence whether they thrive. The systems around child and youth deserve to be examined. Our cross-cutting committees examine how factors affecting all young people, regardless of their age, influence thriving. These groups are: Health Services Delivery; Policy and Place; Data Access; and Healthy Environments, Strong Bodies. These groups approach their work informed by community goals, priorities, and barriers, structural racism, and the need to focus on strengths.

Community-partnered research must lead towards action. Together, we can make the worlds in which we all live better, healthier emotionally, socially, physically. This is the driving principle behind scientific data driving political action, outcomes informing institutional practices, and stories and experiences catalyzing change. Our goal is to remake systems to intentionally work for young people so each of them has the skills and tools to match their wildest hopes and dreams.

Recent Publications

The Pittsburgh Study: Learning with Communities About Child Health and Thriving

Health systems responsible for child health have limited guidance about how to establish sustainable cross-sector collaborations and how to innovate and implement best practices and policies that can support child thriving and racial equity. The “Pittsburgh Study” offers one model.

Read how in this open source article.