Media Release

Researchers find young adults seek greater inclusion on COVID-19 public health messaging

December 15, 2020

Social media contest aims to involve younger population in sharing safety messages


Young adults feeling particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic would like more inclusion in public health messaging, according to preliminary results of a study by Simon Fraser University health sciences professor Scott Lear and UBC Okanagan psychology professor Lesley Lutes.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has spared no one, the researchers note that young adults in British Columbia have been especially hard hit. People between 18 and 40 years of age have experienced the highest unemployment rates, financial insecurity and loss of social connections.

During interviews with 50 young adults from across the province, researchers were told about the significant impact of financial and job losses, the challenges of being ineligible for government support and how isolation from friends has affected their mental health. They also expressed some displeasure with how they’ve been portrayed in the media as not following public health measures, and the blame and shame they’ve received as a result.

Many of the interviewees acknowledged the role of individual responsibility and indicated concern for their health and that of loved ones, as well as concerns for the economy. They feel they are doing their part, following guidelines and doing what they can to support small businesses.

“Young adults feel they are being unfairly blamed, and since they often do not live with family like other age groups, are suffering from social isolation,” says Lear, who also holds the Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul’s Hospital. He says interviews are continuing and further results will follow in the new year. “Many are working in high-risk retail jobs and are concerned about their health.”

“The best messages are those that are positive, tell a story, even makes us laugh, and are delivered by someone who resembles the target audience,” says Lutes. “Young adults are worried about their future and communities, but right now, we’re just not reaching this important group of society.”

Social media contest targets COVID-19 safety sharing

As cases continue to be at record high levels and deaths have been in double-digits each day, the researchers say it’s important for all of us to follow public health measures over the holidays.

With that in mind, they initiated a social media competition as one way for young adults to share their own ways to be COVID-safe for the holidays.

They’ve created @HomeforHolidaysBC accounts on Instagram and Tik Tok. People tagging them and using the hashtag #HomeforHolidaysBC, on their videos, pictures and memes will be re-posted on the @HomeforHolidaysBC accounts and entered in a contest to win Amazon gift cards.


SCOTT LEAR, Pfizer/Heart & Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research, health sciences

604.454.8542 |

NATHAN SKOLSKI, UBC Okanagan, University Relations

604.365.8558 |

MELISSA SHAW, SFU Communications & Marketing 
236.880.3297 |

Simon Fraser University 
Communications & Marketing | SFU Media Experts Directory