Acts of kindness as an antidote to social disconnection: Development and dissemination of an online intervention program to increase social engagement in BC neighbourhoods

Loneliness and social isolation have been increasingly recognized as a growing public health priority with extensive evidence that these issues take a significant toll on population health. Despite this escalating urgency, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, effective evidence-based interventions for mitigating social isolation and loneliness are lacking. Based on previous research by UBC researchers, this project proposes “acts of kindness” as an antidote to social disconnection. Our teams at UBC and UWBC will partner to co-develop and test the effects of an online intervention program to promote social connection in lonely BC residents. We expect that this project will provide an accessible, easy-to-implement program that will mitigate the isolation felt by participating BC residents in the periphery of social networks while also reducing the spread of loneliness throughout those BC residents’ social networks. We also expect this project will promote evidence-based approaches to tackle public health issues in the BC community extending beyond the issue of loneliness, so that UWBC (research users) can ensure that effective and high-quality programs reach British Columbians (ultimate research beneficiaries).

Team members: Jasica Grewal (United Way of BC); Tobias Jones (United Way of BC); Yeeun Archer Lee (UBC); Julia Nakamura (UBC); Rachel Hamilton (UBC).