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  • What is the Medical Research Council?

    The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) is a national organisation funded by the UK taxpayer. It promotes research into all areas of medical and related science with the aims of improving the health and quality of life of the UK public and contributing to t

  • What is the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit?

    The MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit's aim is to: Promote human health by the study of social and environmental influences on health. Specific objectives include:
    • Studying how people's social positions, and their social and physical environments, influence their physical and mental health and capacity to lead healthy lives;

    • Designing and evaluating interventions aiming to improve public health and reduce social inequalities in health, and;

    • Influencing policy and practice by communicating the results and implications of research.

    The Unit is funded by the Medical Research Council and the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) at the The Scottish Government Health Department, and is based at the University of Glasgow.

  • What is cortisol?

    Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal gland. It is often referred to as ‘the stress hormone’; studies have found that people (and animals) with chronic stress generally have higher levels. Cortisol acts to increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It can also reduce the efficiency of the body’s immune system. The amount of cortisol varies naturally during the day; levels are highest in the early morning and lowest around midnight. The concentration of cortisol in saliva accurately reflects the level circulating in the bloodstream. This means that bodily cortisol levels can be reliably measured via salivary samples.

  • How were ‘PaLS’ participants selected?

    All S4 pupils in 22 selected secondary schools within the Central Clydeside Conurbation, a socially mixed and mainly urban area which includes the City of Glasgow, were invited to take part in ‘PaLS’. The schools were selected to be representative of the local population in terms of geographical location, religious denomination and deprivation. For more details go to the Study Design section of this website.

  • How many pupils took part in ‘PaLS’?

    3,194 (1,572 boys and 1,622 girls) filled in a ‘PaLS’ questionnaire. For more details go to the Study Design section of this website.

  • Was approval obtained for ‘PaLS’?

    Approval to conduct ‘PaLS’ was given by the University of Glasgow’s Faculty of Law, Business & Social Sciences Ethics Committee, each of the 6 relevant local authority education departments, and the head-teachers of all selected schools. Permission for individual pupils to take part was obtained from parents, using standard consent forms. Participating pupils also completed consent forms themselves.

  • Have participants received feedback?

    In Spring 2007, bundles of feedback leaflets were sent to all participating schools for distribution to those pupils who had taken part. A copy can be found in the Pupils and Parents section of this Website.

  • Is the information collected by ‘PaLS’ available to other researchers?

    All information collected as part of the study, whether held on paper copy or electronic files, is anonymised (that is, identified only by an ID number). Only authorised members of the survey team have access to the list of names and addresses. Anonymised data files are made available to the research team. Other researchers in the Unit may apply to one of the study’s researchers (Patrick West, Helen Sweeting or Robert Young) for permission to access specified sections of the data for particular analysis.

    Researchers from outside the Unit may apply to the study’s researchers for permission to access specified sections of the data for particular analysis, in collaboration with one or more members of the study team.

    Collaborators, whether from the Unit or from other institutions, are only given access to anonymous sections of the data relevant to the proposed analysis. Any publications arising from such analysis have to be cleared by the study’s researchers and the Director of MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, Professor Sally Macintyre. Collaborators must sign an agreement to abide by MRC principles of good research practice.