Understanding and Mitigating the Impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on Children, Youth, and Families living with an Eating Disorder: A National Implementation Study of a Virtual Parent-Led Peer Support Intervention
The COVID‑19 pandemic has worsened conditions for individuals with eating disorders (EDs). In Canada, we have experienced a surge in new pediatric ED cases and hospitalizations and long treatment waitlists, with parents experiencing anxiety due to a lack of support. As it has not been rigorously studied, there is an urgent need to understand and mitigate the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on children, youth, and families living with EDs across Canada. Our proposed research has two goals. First, we plan to understand the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic faced by this population throughout the country, as well as describe stakeholder views on virtual parent support groups. Given the increased burden faced by parents of children with EDs during the COVID‑19 pandemic, our second goal is to study whether the national implementation of virtual parent support groups helps to mitigate the impact of the pandemic among affected parents. We will use qualitative semi-structured interviews, to gather an understanding of the impact of the pandemic on relevant stakeholders across the country. At the same time, we will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the implementation of virtual parent support groups in several regions of Canada by examining parent and provider experiences. Our team is well positioned to respond to this rapid research funding opportunity, as experts in EDs, implementation science, community-based research, and peer support are collaborating on this project. Studying the implementation and effectiveness of parent support groups is essential, particularly during the present and post-pandemic era, when vulnerable populations are in dire need of support.