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Virtual Care Solutions to Support Diverse Youth Living with Pain and their Families During COVID and Beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic is incredibly stressful, and will impact the mental and physical health of youth for the rest of their lives. Pain is one of the most common symptoms that youth experience when dealing with stressful events. This is important because pain can lead to worse mental health in the future. At least two million Canadian youth already have pain that lasts months to years (also called chronic pain).

Youth who live with chronic pain are more likely than their peers to be anxious, depressed, have traumatic stress, and trouble sleeping. They are also more likely to continue to have pain, mental health problems, and misuse drugs as adults. We need to treat pain now to prevent lifelong issues for our youth.  

Overnight, it has become necessary to deliver medical and mental health care virtually (like using apps, websites, or therapy over video call). The goal of our project was to find out the best ways to delivery virtual care for youth who are living with pain, and their families and to share that information with families, policy makers, health professionals, and the public. We are sharing this information so that the public, youth, families, healthcare providers, and government policymakers can make the best decisions to treat pain and prevent mental health problems in youth during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the future.  


Interactive Evidence and Gap Map of virtual care solutions for youth with pain and their families. See what’s new and what tools are available!


Best Practices for Virtual Care: A 1-page overview

Through funding from the Ontario SPOR SUPPORT Unit, our team conducted collaborative sessions with Black youth living with painful sickle cell disease, Indigenous youth with chronic pain, youth with pain and complex medical needs and developmental disabilities, and their families to ensure best practices were inclusive.


Policy Brief. Youth Pain & COVID-19: Mobilizing virtual care during and beyond the pandemic

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Project Lead

Katie Birnie, PhD RPsych
University of Calgary
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Project Co-Lead

Melanie Noel, PhD RPsych
University of Calgary
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Project Co-Lead

Jennifer Stinson, PhD RN
The Hospital for Sick Children

Project Team

Tieghan Killackey, PhD RN
The Hospital for Sick Children

Diane Lorenzetti, PhD
University of Calgary

Maria Pavlova, MSc
University of Calgary

Alexandra Neville, MSc
University of Calgary

Fiona Campbell, MD
The Hospital for Sick Children

Chitra Lalloo, PhD
The Hospital for Sick Children

Paul Arnold, MD PhD
University of Calgary

Isabel Jordan, BSc (Hons)
Squamish, British Columbia

Evie Jordan
Squamish, British Columbia

Justina Marianayagam, BHSc
Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Additional Team

Melanie Kirby-Allen, MD
The Hospital for Sick Children

Hal Siden, MD
University of British Columbia

Tim Oberlander, MD
University of British Columbia

Jaris Swidrovich, PharmD
University of Saskatchewan

Jenna Swidrovich

Christine Harris

Frank Gavin

Project Funders


Project Partners

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