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Alison Hadley, OBE

Director - Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange

Alison Hadley

I joined the University in February 2013 as Director of the first Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange

I led the implementation of the previous Labour Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy for England, which reduced the under-18 conception rate by 55% to the lowest level for 40 years, and helped improve maternity and postnatal support for young parents.

The aim of the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange is to build on the success of the Strategy and ensure the lessons learned are transferred to policy makers and strategic leaders - in the UK and internationally - and embedded in the training of relevant practitioners.

My knowledge and skills on teenage pregnancy are drawn from frontline experience as a family planning nurse and health visitor and over 25 years strategic leadership – 12 years in Government and 13 years as Policy Director for Brook, the UK's leading young people's sexual health charity. I am currently Teenage Pregnancy Advisor to Public Health England and working with the World Health Organisation to share the success factors of the Strategy with other countries seeking to address high teenage pregnancy rates and improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

I have extensive experience of supporting partnerships between local government and health, and working with a wide range of locally elected politicians, senior leaders in health and local government, commissioners and frontline health and non-health practitioners. I have recently authored a book - Teenage pregnancy and young parenthood: effective policy and practice - written with Professor Roger Ingham of Southampton University, in collaboration with Dr Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli from WHO and published by Routledge as part of their Adolescence and Society Series.

I am delighted to have established the Knowledge Exchange at the University of Bedfordshire with its reputation for addressing inequalities and vulnerable young people and providing high-quality health and social care training.


  • OBE for services to teenage pregnancy. New Year's Honours, 2010
  • Honorary Fellowship, UK Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health - Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2010
  • Health Visitor Registration, Distinction Award, 1981
  • Family Planning Certificate 901, 1981
  • State Registered Nurse - Middlesex Hospital London, Gold Medal Award, 1977

Teaching Role

Reducing teenage pregnancy and improving outcomes for young parents and their children requires a multi-agency approach, involving health and non-health practitioners. Understanding teenage pregnancy policy and practice is relevant to many of the Faculty's undergraduate and postgraduate courses. I provide teaching input to Child and Adult Nursing, Health Visiting and School Nursing, Midwifery and Youth and Community Work, with a focus on evidence based practice and the contribution of each profession to local teenage pregnancy programmes.

Research Interests

There has been a considerable amount of research into teenage pregnancy and teenage parenthood. The characteristics of young people at risk have been identified and the evidence on what works is well established. I am particularly interested in developing more research into service user involvement and the social context which influences how young people and teenage parents use and benefit from services. Understanding the perceptions and attitudes of both the service user and the practitioners is essential for improving service design and the effectiveness of one to one consultations. Getting services and communication skills right is always important, but even more so when local resources are limited. Building trust in services, particularly among the most vulnerable young people, increases their early uptake of support and saves the costs of later intervention.

The following areas are examples of current research gaps which I am keen to address.

  • How to increase young people's trust in and use of general practice for contraception and sexual health advice
  • Exploring the attitudes of health practitioners to teenage sexual activity, teenage pregnancy and the provision of contraception and sexual health services
  • Exploring young people's knowledge and attitudes to contraception
  • How marginalised groups of young people - including looked after children and care leavers - can be supported to access early contraception and sexual health advice.
  • How to increase teenage mothers and young fathers' trust in and use of maternity services and children's centres
  • How young parents can be supported back into education and training

Recent Research Projects

I have been involved with the development and implementation of a wide range of research in relation to teenage pregnancy, including international evidence reviews, longitudinal studies, RCTs and qualitative research.

I am currently on the advisory group of the following research programmes:

A school based social marketing intervention to improve sexual health and reduce unintended pregnancies in England. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London. ukctg.nihr.ac.uk/trials/trial-details/trial-details?trialNumber=ISRCTN12524938

Young men and unintended pregnancy: The JACK trial. Queens University, Belfast. www.qub.ac.uk/sites/IfIWereJack

I was previously on the advisory groups of the following research programmes:

  • Parental communication on sex and relationships (Southampton University, Leverhulme Trust)
  • National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles 2010 (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine/Medical Research Council)
  • Preventing teenage pregnancy among looked after children and care leavers (St George's Hospital, National Institute for Health Research)

I have initiated and provided policy expertise to a number of qualitative research projects to inform and strengthen the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. These include young people's knowledge and attitudes to contraception; teenage parents' views of support services; young men's views of condom use; and parents' views of sex and relationships education.

Service to the Academic/Professional Community

Conference Presentations

As Director of the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange and Teenage Pregnancy Advisor to Public Health England, I have given many presentations at national and international conferences, seminars and professional training events. Examples of recent presentations include:

  • Teenage pregnancy prevention: data and policy update. December 2017
  • Young parents support: policy update. December 2017
  • Reproductive health through the life course: learnng from the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. July 2017
  • Relationships and sex education: national policy briefing. May 2017
  • Teenage Pregnancy Strategy: a joined up solution to a complex issue. Thailand national conference. February 2017
  • The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy for England: what we did and what we learned. Pan-american health organisation (PAHO) conference. August 2016
  • Young people's use of contraception: barriers and solutions. May 2016
  • World Health Organisation conference. Geneva. August 2016.
  • Teenage pregnancy: job done or more to do? February 2016


I have authored, commissioned and edited a range of Government and external publications. These have been aimed at different audiences including elected politicians, local government and health commissioners and frontline professionals. Recent publications include:

  • Teenage pregnancy and young parenthood: effective policy and practice. Adolescence and Society Series. Routledge. 2017.
  • The challenges of applying a successful strategy model across differing national and local landscapes. Sexual health and HIV policy e-bulletin. Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health. 2017. www.fsrh.org/blogs/alison-hadley-on-the-challenges-of-applying-a-successful
  • Implementing the UK Government's ten year teenage pregnancy strategy for England (1999-2010): how was this done and what did it achieve? Reproductive Health. 2016. reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12978-016-0255-4
  • Reducing teenage pregnancy: Lessons Learned from the UK Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy for England. 2016. www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(13)00618-6/fulltext
  • Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Framework: supporting young people to prevent unplanned pregnancy and develop healthy relationships. Public Health England and Local Government Association. (2017)
  • A Framework for supporting teenage mothers and young fathers. Public Health England and Local Government Association. (2016)
  • Teenage Pregnancy Briefing for Lead Members for Children's Services (jointly published with Local Government Association, 2017)
  • Teenage Pregnancy Strategy: Beyond 2010. Department for Children, Schools and Families and Department of Health (2010).
  • Teenage Parents Next Steps: guidance to LAs and PCTs DCSF, DH (2007).
  • Teenage pregnancy and reproductive health. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 2007.
  • Teenage Pregnancy Next Steps: guidance to LAs and PCTs, Department for Education and Skills (2006)
  • Teenage Parents Who Cares: maternity services commissioning guidance; Getting Maternity Services Right for Teenage Mothers and Young Fathers: guidance for frontline midwives and maternity support workers (jointly published with Royal College of Midwives, 2005)
  • Key Topics in Public Health: teenage pregnancy chapter. Churchill Livingstone. 2005.
  • Getting it Right for Young People: guidance for general practice (jointly published with Royal College of General Practitioners, 2003).
  • Tough Choices: young women's experiences of pregnancy. Editor. Women's Press. 2000.
  • Getting Real: improving teenage sexual health. Fabian Society. 1999.
  • Accessibility of sexual health services for young people. Journal of Management in Medicine. 1995.

Contact Details

E: alison.hadley@beds.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)7449 905073

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