Impact of Social Isolation on Refugee Children and Youth

Long-term lockdown and social isolation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are unprecedented experiences. To date, not enough studies have been conducted to fully understand the impact of this social isolation on refugee youth, and to be able to create a model for resilience. Over the past few years, the research team of Access Alliance has been working on the impact of family loss and separation on refugee youth. This current project, Implementation Research on the Impact of Social Isolation on Refugee Youth: Their Resilience and Coping Mechanisms, is a continuation of that research initiative.

Our Research Goals and Activities

This project aims to assess the impact of social isolation on refugee youth in Toronto (Canada) as well as their coping mechanisms to overcome the adverse effects on their health and wellbeing. This will be done by conducting a rigorous systematic review of existing literature followed by peer-led facilitated discussion.

Our key research questions are:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, what has been the experience of prolonged social isolation for refugee youth?
  • What types of resiliency strategies and coping mechanisms have refugee youth used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?

The activities we are planning:

 Activity 1: Systematic Literature Review of resource materials – This review will examine articles/resources related to the impact of social isolation or the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of refugee youth, focusing on those aged 16-24. This process will use fuzzy cognitive mapping to analyze the multi-level relationship between causal factors and impacts to produce a report on findings and other knowledge mobilization documents.

 Activity 2:  Facilitated Feedback Discussion (Peer-led) – There will be two peer-led  discussions, working collaboratively with community members with lived experience to expand understanding of the findings in Activity 1.

 Activity 3: Knowledge Mobilization Plan – The knowledge mobilization goals are to generate awareness and interest in the research results to promote action that will lead to improved service provision for refugee youth. This will be done in a variety of ways, including developing and promoting a research-informed fact sheet, as well as more broadly, through informing future research, policy, and practice.

 Activity 4: Knowledge Mobilization Products/Activities – Knowledge mobilization products and activities will be prepared to reach target audiences as change agents at the micro level (individual), meso level (community, service provider, etc.) and macro level (system). These will include the use of existing knowledge dissemination platforms (such as Access Alliance Coffee Chat sessions and service provider meetings), and the development of tailored products for targeted audiences (such as a report, fact sheet, infographic, etc.).

 Activity 5: Capacity Building for Community Partners – This project has multiple opportunities for community engagement and capacity building. For example, community partners will build capacity through research training and mentoring opportunities. As well, staff and community members (refugee peer researcher with lived experience) will be meaningfully engaged in the design, conduction, interpretation, and application of research. Additionally, the resources created from this project will work to strengthen existing supports and programming for refugee youth.

 Our Project Team

Project Team Members: The peer-engaged study will be led by Dr. Akm Alamgir (Director, Organizational Knowledge and Learning; and Scientist, Research and Evaluation Department, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services), coordinated by Dr. Gemechu Abeshu (Post-Doctoral Fellow, York University), and coordination support by Courtney Kupka (Research Assistant, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services). The field research team will be comprised of a Post-Doctoral Researcher (York University), Research Assistant (Access Alliance), graduate and undergraduate students in the research stream, two refugee youths as peer-researchers, and an internationally trained researcher as a volunteer researcher

The co-investigator scientists for this project are Dr. Christopher Kyriakides (York University Department of Sociology; Canada Research Chair in Citizenship, Social Justice and Ethno-Racialization) and Andrew Johnston (Manager, Patient and Family Education & CAMH Publications, CAMH Education Centre for Addiction and Mental Health).

 Our Funder

This research study is supported by funding from The Child and Youth Refugee Research Coalition (CYRCC).

The project report and infographic are available for reading online.

For more info contact: OR

Updates and Products:

Workentin, M., Castro Arteaga, M., Alamgir, AKM., & Kupka, C.F. (2022). PRISMA statement and Cochrane reviews: Striving to improve quality and validity of systematic reviews. [Blog]. Access Alliance: Toronto. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.13610.29121

Arteaga, M. C., Workentin, M., Abeshu, G., Anene, I., & Alamgir, A. (2022). Role and Level of Engagement of Peer Researchers in Systematic Reviews: A Review Article. Advances in Research23(5), 6-17.