For Padley, working on MyVoice kickstarted her interest in research and studying STEM in college.
Elena Padley, an Ohio high school student, recently presented the results of an opinion poll providing insight into young people’s opinions on changing abortion policies after the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Padley presented the survey’s findings in a research poster as part of a symposium at her high school.
Padley worked in collaboration with a group of adolescent health researchers and the MyVoice research team to survey over 1,000 people aged 14-24 across the country. Survey questions were developed and tested by the MyVoice team—comprised of academic researchers, senior research project managers, and students from high school through graduate school. The open-ended questions were written to elicit engagement from diverse respondents.
Questions were then sent via text message to MyVoice participants after the Supreme Court ruling. Padley and a team of analysts reviewed and grouped each individual response by thematic area. They then calculated summary statistics to allow for inferences about youth opinion on abortion. The team found that while young people wanted more information on the impact of state-by-state changes to abortion policies, many already had a sense of what resources they needed should they need an abortion themselves.
Most survey respondents were able to identify a person they would reach out to for support if they needed an abortion. However, doctors were not often mentioned as trusted individuals. Surveyed youth also indicated that they were more trusting of abortion-related resources and information found on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok — particularly accounts related to Planned Parenthood, more than clinical or government sources like the CDC and the World Health Organization. Most young people surveyed also indicated that, while many felt that they had informational and interpersonal support, they would need financial support to procure an abortion out-of-state.
Padley’s participation gave her the opportunity to learn firsthand how research is conducted. “I learned a lot about the research process and how a program like this operates,” she said. “I also learned research and presentation skills, and about the procedure of writing a research manuscript.” Padley also found that the experience allowed her to expand her professional network, with her new colleagues eager to share their experiences in studying and working in the research field — critical conversations to have as she gets ready to apply for college.
“In five years, I hope to be in college studying for a STEM degree,” she said. “Working with MyVoice showed me how much I enjoy research, so I hope there will be more of that to come!”
Tammy Chang, associate professor of family medicine emphasized the important role Padley and other young researchers play on the MyVoice team saying, “[Elena] is a wonderful example of how young people can collaborate as equals as scientists who study youth,” Chang said. “Her insights as a current high schooler were invaluable in the analyses and dissemination of the data.”