Changes in Health behaviours among Adolescents and Social-Ecological influences: Pandemic Evidence for an Equitable Recovery (The CHASE PEER Study)
The COVID‑19 pandemic and related mitigation measures have affected the health and lifestyles of youth across the world. Changes such as school closures to in-person learning, diminished extracurricular activities, reduced wages, and divestment in non-pandemic-related public health measures have greatly affected the physical activity, sleep, screen time, substance use, and eating habits of youth. These health behaviours are especially important in adolescents because the habits they develop now, carry over into adulthood, and increase risk for future chronic diseases. Adopting and maintaining healthy habits in adolescents, and preventing or delaying the onset of risk behaviours, can impact health across the lifespan, thus reducing the social and economic burden of disease for all Canadians. The negative effects of the pandemic are likely to be even greater for youth already experiencing health inequalities related to gender, race/ethnicity, and family income. Social relationships, neighbourhood resources (such as parks, community centres, and other facilities and programs), and school-based programs and policies may help reduce this impact. Identifying who is most affected and what factors can minimize the negative effects of the pandemic will help Canada target resources towards adolescents and communities that need them most and ensure that any changes are effective. We will use Canadian data collected by our team before and throughout the pandemic, to address questions about 1) what groups of adolescents were most negatively affected by the pandemic, and 2) what supports reduced this risk? Funds will be used to ensure that we have the resources and person-power to prioritize this important work, and then communicate it effectively to promote an equitable recovery. We will engage youth, public health organizations, and schools as partners to ensure our research reflects the diverse experiences of adolescents and meets the needs of those who can create change.