Background: When developing intervention research, it is important to explore issues from the community perspective. Interventions that promote adolescent health in South Africa are urgently needed, and Project Ntshembo ('hope') aims to improve the health of young women and their offspring in the Agincourt sub-district of rural northeast South Africa, actively using stakeholder involvement throughout the research process.
Objective: This study aimed to determine adolescent health priorities according to key stakeholders, to align stakeholder and researcher priorities, and to form a stakeholder forum, which would be active throughout the intervention.
Design: Thirty-two stakeholders were purposefully identified as community members interested in the health of adolescents. An adapted Delphi incorporating face-to-face discussions, as well as participatory visualisation, was used in a series of three workshops. Consensus was determined through non-parametric analysis.
Results: Stakeholders and researchers agreed that peer pressure and lack of information, or having information but not acting on it, were the root causes of adolescent health problems. Pregnancy, HIV, school dropout, alcohol and drug abuse, not accessing health services, and unhealthy lifestyle (leading to obesity) were identified as priority adolescent health issues. A diagram was developed showing how these eight priorities relate to one another, which was useful in the development of the intervention. A stakeholder forum was founded, comprising 12 of the stakeholders involved in the stakeholder involvement process.
Conclusions: The process brought researchers and stakeholders to consensus on the most important health issues facing adolescents, and a stakeholder forum was developed within which to address the issues. Stakeholder involvement as part of a research engagement strategy can be of mutual benefit to the researchers and the community in which the research is taking place.
Keywords: Delphi; adolescents; health priorities; stakeholder; stakeholder involvement.