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Population Health and Wellness

Population health and wellness involves monitoring and working to improve the health of a population, which includes addressing and reducing health inequities arising from differences in determinants of health between and among groups within the population.  We are working to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and response measures have impacted the health and wellness of British Columbians. Our initial work suggests that there have been substantial and widespread impacts on population health in BC. Some of the impacts have been beneficial, but many have not. Moreover, not all of these impacts have been shared or experienced in the same way. Pre-existing inequities have put some groups at greater risk for poorer health and wellness outcomes during the pandemic. 

The population health and wellness reports are organized in the following topics: 
Mental health is an important component of population health and wellness. Learn about the impact of COVID-19 response measures on mental health

Health Behaviour

In an effort to protect others and keep ourselves safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, many British Columbians have introduced new practices into their daily lives and made changes to their behaviour and lifestyles. We have found that while some of these changes have positive effects in promoting health, others may include new risks or drawbacks to well-being. 

COVID-19 response measures can impact the level of physical activity among children, youth, adults, and seniors. People may engage in less physical activity due to the closure of public parks and recreation centres, as well as requirements to work from home; while others may be motivated to engage in more outdoor activities, including walking, running, and hiking. Physical activity is important for both physical and mental health. 


Report forthcoming

 

As the pandemic affects lifestyle practices, routines, and daily life, including physical activity, healthy eating, as well as stress levels and mental health, obesity and overweight prevalence rates may change.  


Report forthcoming

 

Healthy eating is important at all life stages—from the growth and development of infants, children, and youth to the health and maintenance of adults and seniors. Due to various factors from the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., stress, boredom, income loss, food insecurity), individuals may consume less fruits and vegetables, and consume more sugary beverages and unhealthy, processed foods. 


Report forthcoming

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Physical Health

As British Columbians have adopted new habits and routines into their lives, while also experiencing a reduction in some health services, there can be changes in physical health. We are focusing on several areas of physical health to monitor these impacts, including chronic disease, disabilities, injuries, and communicable diseases.

COVID-19 response measures can hinder access to health promotion and prevention services for individuals requiring chronic disease management, undergoing injury/surgery recovery, and/or living with disabilities. This in turn can lead to health complications and consequences affecting quality of life. ‎


Report forthcoming

 

The COVID-19 pandemic and response measures have led to behavioral changes, which can cause a shift in unintentional injury incidents. This primarily includes injuries and injury-related deaths that occur at home, or in recreational, transportation, workplace settings. 


Report forthcoming

 

In addition to reducing exposure and transmission of COVID-19, response measures (e.g., physical distancing, isolating when sick, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, more frequent cleaning of hands and surfaces) can decrease the incidence of other communicable diseases transmitted by respiratory droplets. 


Report forthcoming

 
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Sexual & Reproductive Health

COVID-19 response measures can create challenges for individuals to access sexual and reproductive health services, which may affect the diagnosis and transmission of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) and perinatal outcomes.

Reduced access to primary care providers (e.g., testing, treatment) and changes in safe sexual practices may impact the rate of transmission of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) during the pandemic. Furthermore, the risk of STIs such as Hepatitis C and HIV is especially concerning for individuals who inject drugs and are not able to access harm reduction services. 


Report forthcoming

During the pandemic, primary care providers were advised to decrease the number of routine prenatal visits, as well as to transition to phone or virtual-based care to minimize exposure risk. In-person access to community-based pregnancy support also decreased. Delayed and missed diagnoses and treatment of developmental, mental health, and clinical disorders in both pregnant individuals and infants may rise. 


Report forthcoming

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Child & Youth Health & Wellness

Children and youth access important programs and services that support their health and well-being in both health care and school settings. We examined the effects of the temporary suspension of in-class instruction and ongoing impacts on learning environments on the health and education of children and youth. Restrictions to in-person health care services to manage the risk of COVID-19 have also interrupted and delayed immunizations, developmental screenings, as well as access to support services for abuse and neglect. In this section, we explore the impacts of these changes.

COVID-19 response measures, including restrictions on in-person appointments with clinical services and temporary suspensions/reductions for in-classroom learning, reduced access to immunization for infants, children, and youth. In addition, parents who were concerned they or their child would contract COVID-19 deferred immunization appointments for their children.

Report forthcoming

Many hospitals discharged mothers and newborns earlier than usual following delivery (i.e., less than 24 hours) to minimize COVID-19 exposure risk. In-person access to community-based providers specializing in postpartum care has also been limited. Delayed and missed diagnoses and subsequent treatment opportunities of developmental, mental health, and clinical disorders among mothers and infants may increase.‎


Report forthcoming

 

Detecting conditions in infancy and early childhood is critical for effective prevention and treatment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, response measures have made it challenging for health care providers to be available and to administer childhood screening programs (e.g., early childhood dental program, early hearing program, early childhood vision screening program).  ‎


Report forthcoming

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many risk factors that influence the frequency and severity of violence against children and women. Pre-existing supports that were available and used by families have been disrupted, with responsibilities falling on caregivers and families. During the suspension of in-class instruction, children and youth at risk may experience abuse or neglect without contact and intervention from trusted adults at school.


Report forthcoming

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Births & Deaths

COVID-19 and the various societal consequences that we explore in other sections of this website can have broader impacts on birth and death patterns in the population. We are currently assessing the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and response measures on birth rate and excess mortality in BC. 

This assessment includes an examination of deaths from all causes in BC during the COVID-19 pandemic and changes observed compared to previous ‘normal’ periods. This includes analyses of deaths attributed to COVID-19 and deaths due to other causes (e.g., overdoses, diseases), consideration for excess mortality, as well as analyses of life expectancy (at birth) and potential years of life lost (PYLL). Moreover, this assessment will look at which sub-populations are experiencing deaths more, and how the pandemic and related response measures may have altered those patterns.‎


Report forthcoming

 

The birth rate in BC may be impacted by a variety of factors during the pandemic, including reduced fertility treatment access, reduced access to contraception, increased access to virtual care options, among others.


Report forthcoming

 
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SOURCE: Population Health and Wellness ( )
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