Effect of an eHealth intervention on COVID-19 knowledge, behaviours, and mental wellness of LGBT+ people: #SafeHandsSafeHearts randomized trial

Marginalized populations around the world bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. This is particularly true for LGBT+ groups who already face elevated rates of physical and mental health challenges, as well as socio-structural barriers that limit the effectiveness and feasibility of recommended preventive measures such as physical distancing and handwashing. These health and social disparities greatly increase the vulnerability of LGBT+ people to COVID-19, and compound with other forms of marginalization such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, and HIV status, as well as unstable housing and employment, healthcare discrimination, and violence. There is an absence of coordinated and community-engaged responses to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for these groups.

To address these challenges, this project will adapt, test, and disseminate a community-engaged eHealth intervention with diverse LGBT+ populations to reduce their risk of COVID-19 infection. The research team will test the intervention’s effectiveness in increasing COVID-19 knowledge and protective behaviours, and in reducing psychological distress among LGBT+ people in Canada, India, and Thailand. The results of this project will reduce the risk of COVID-19 for LGBT+ people and will also better inform health system and public health responses to support engagement of LGBT+ and other marginalized populations in the pandemic response.

The project was selected for funding through the COVID-19 May 2020 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity, coordinated by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in partnership with IDRC and several other health research funding agencies across Canada.

Project ID


Project status



12 months

IDRC Officer

Zee Leung

Total funding

CA$ 492,945


India, Thailand


Foundations for Innovation

Project Leader

Peter Newman


The Governing Council of the University of Toronto

Institution Country


Institution Website