Chelsea Coakley

Research Officer: Adolescent Engagement and Participation, Adolescent Accelerators Research Hub

Research Project(s)

  • Global Fund
  • HEY BABY (Helping Empower Youth Brought up in Adversity with their Babies and Young children)
  • Teen Advisory Groups

Research Interests

  • Adolescent and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and development in resource-limited settings
  • Participatory research methodology, intervention design and implementation science
  • Peer-delivered models of HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health promotion


Chelsea Coakley is a Research Officer in the Centre for Social Science Research at the University of Cape Town, where she leads adolescent engagement and participation in research activities in the Teen Advisory Groups (TAG) and Helping Empower Young Parents Brought up in Adversity with their Babies and Young children (HEY BABY) projects. She is a senior investigator on the TAG sub-study, a co-Investigator on two active cluster-randomised controlled trials evaluating school-based sexual and reproductive health programmes for adolescent female learners: Using all our SKILLZ  in Lusaka, Zambia with Prof Nancy Padian and Goals for Girls in Cape Town, South Africa with Prof Linda-Gail Bekker; she was previously a Co-Investigator on two participatory sub-studies working in partnership with young investigators in Cape Town, South Africa (Goals for Girls) and out-of-school adolescents and supporting young collaborators in Neno, Malawi project No Woman or Girl Left Behind with Partners in Health. Chelsea's background is in psychology and behavioural science with a focus on adolescent and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and development. Her previous work experience includes large-scale intervention programme design, monitoring and evaluation across eleven Sub-Saharan African countries for international non-profit organisations, private foundations as well as Canadian and US government funding institutions.

She holds a BA in Psychology from McGill University, a MPhil from Stellenbosch University, and is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town where she is investigating pathways to positive health outcomes in adolescent health mentorship models.

 Chelsea Coakley CV

Recent Publications 

  • Coakley, C, Lee D, Pike C, Oduro A, Ntlapo N, Myers L, Hartmann M, Bekker LG. (2024). Realising agency: insights from participatory research with learners in a South African sexual and reproductive health programme. Frontiers in Public Health: Public Health Education and Promotion. (In press)

  • Pike, Coakley C, Lee D, Daniels D, Ahmed N, Hartmann M, Padian N, Bekker LG. (2023). Lessons learned from the implementation of a school-based sexual health education program for adolescent girls in Cape Town, South Africa. Global Health Science and Practice.

  • Pike C, Coakley C, Ahmed N, Lee D, Little F, Bekker LG. (2023). Goals for Girls: A cluster randomised trial to investigate a school-based sexual health programme amongst female learners in South Africa. Health Education Research.

  • Jochim J, Cluver L, Sidloyi L, Kelly J, Ornellas A, Mangqalaza H, Coakley C, George G, Toska E. (2023). Improving educational and reproductive outcomes for adolescent mothers in South Africa: A cross-sectional analysis towards realising policy goals. Global Public Health.

  • Bango F, Pike C, Coakley C, Bekker LG, Cleary S.(2022). A cost analysis of a sports-based sexual health education programme for adolescent girls in South African schools. Health Policy and Planning.