Understanding the Wider Health and Equity Impacts of Public Health COVID‑19 Mitigation Strategies on Young Mothers, Children and Youth Living in Cities

Anderson, Geoffrey M | $499,291

Ontario University of Toronto 2022 CIHR Operating Grant

The public health response to COVID‑19 involved strategies to prevent person-to-person spread of the virus so that hospitals would not become overwhelmed with severely ill cases. These strategies included prolonged restrictions to social interaction, school and day care closures and substantial job loss in large sectors of the economy. There are concerns that disruptions to these social and economic activities could have profound health impacts in vulnerable populations. There is a growing recognition that urban life has important implications for health and that the built environment, neighborhood structure and social resources of cities can increase resilience or exacerbate inequities. This project will focus on measuring the broader impacts of COVID‑19 public health containment strategies on a range of mental health , drug use and domestic violence outcomes in mothers of young children, children and youth that could be a product of the anxiety, depression, and a sense of hopelessness that is associated with loss of social interaction, education and employment that came with COVID‑19 containment strategies. These outcomes will be measured using proven existing methods based on health system data, The study will draw on census data to measure important aspects of urban structure, labour force survey data to look at job loss, mobility data from cell phones to look at broad aspects of urban social interaction and publicly available data on urban school and day care closures. This study brings together a multi-disciplinary research team with extensive expertise in using these data. The results of this study on the association between public health mitigation and adverse outcomes mediated through urban structures and supports will help us to develop strategies to make cities more resilient and to inform our efforts to allow cities to recover from COVID‑19 in a way that is fair and equitable and that serves the needs of children, youth, and mothers of young children.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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