Experiences of the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic from the perspectives of young people: Rapid qualitative study

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Objectives: Young people are considered at lower risk from coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19). However, measures to limit the population health impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic have caused significant disruptions to their lives. The objective of this study was to explore the experiences of young people predominantly living in the south-west of England during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study design: Rapid qualitative study.

Methods: Following advertisement on social media, a purposive sample of young people by age and gender who had expressed an interest were invited to participate. In June 2020, 21 young people (12–17 years) took part in 18 semi-structured interviews, either through a digital platform or by telephone. Interviews were recorded digitally and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was undertaken, assisted by NVvivo Software.

Results: Young people felt the greatest impacts of the pandemic have been disruption to how they learned because of school closures and limited face-to-face interaction with their social networks. There was variation in terms of how satisfied young people were with self-directed learning at home, and some anxieties in relation to its effectiveness outside the school environment. Most young people reported maintaining social relationships remotely, but some young people appeared to have little social interaction outside their household. High levels of adherence to social distancing and handwashing were reported, which could lead to a sense of injustice resulting from visibility of other people breaching social distancing guidance. Young people were willing to be vaccinated
against COVID-19 if a vaccine became available, with the greatest motivator being to protect others above themselves.

Conclusions: Young people have experienced significant disruption to their education and social networks during the COVID-19 pandemic. During lockdown, high levels of compliance to government public health guidelines to reduce transmission of COVID-19 were reported by young people. If an effective vaccine is developed, a schoolsbased vaccination programme could be an efficient method to interrupt transmission to more at-risk populations and prevent further disruptions to young people’s education.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100162
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health in Practice
Early online date8 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, University of Bristol , the Wellcome Trust ISSF3 grant 204813/Z/16/Z and QR SPF (Quality-Related Strategic Priorities Fund), UKRI Research England .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Structured keywords

  • Covid19


  • young people
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • adherence
  • public health
  • qualitative
  • vaccination
  • schools


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