Grant awarded to develop social health guidelines
August 24, 2022
TORONTO – The GenWell Project – in partnership with Simon Fraser University, the Institute for Social Connection, the Public Health Agency of Canada and several researchers from Canadian Universities – has received $761,000 in Federal funding from the Canadian Institute for Health Research. The funding is to research and produce Canadian Social Connection Guidelines that will help Canadians build a better understanding of the impact of social ties to their health and wellbeing, and its impact on building a healthier society.
The project will allow the team to synthesize existing research on social connection, continue additional years of survey data collection about loneliness and social health as part of the Canadian Social Connection Survey, and convene experts from across Canada and around the world in the area of social health to develop the guidelines, similar to those that have provided Canadians with physical and nutrition guidelines more than fifty years.
This project is led by Dr. Kiffer G. Card (pictured), an assistant professor with the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and director of research for the GenWell Project. “Canada has a strong history in leading the development of public health guidelines,” says Card. “In 1942, Canada’s first Food Guide provided public health guidance for wartime food rationing. Twenty years later, the Fitness and Amateur Sport Act launched a physical activity revolution that eventually resulted in the Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living. Regardless of the challenge, evidence-based guidelines have provided simple, easy-to-learn strategies for healthy living.”
Last year, The GenWell Project, in partnership with Card, launched the inaugural Canadian Social Connection Survey – a nationwide survey about human connectedness in the time of COVID-19 and the post-pandemic period. The survey of nearly 3,800 Canadians from across the country examined the patterns of social connection among participants and highlighted the significant degree of social disruption as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. The results showed approximately 50% of Canadians across all demographics, experienced a clinically significant level of loneliness, that roughly 6% of Canadians were chronically lonely and highlighted that social isolation, disconnection and loneliness can impact us all at different stages of life and in various situations. Previous studies have demonstrated the danger of these high levels of social disconnection. In fact, social disconnection and loneliness are associated with an up to 50% increase in risk for premature death – which is higher than the impact of obesity, sedentary living, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and air pollution.
According to Pete Bombaci, executive director for The GenWell Project, “Most people don’t recognize the negative implications of social isolation, disconnection and loneliness, or the critical role that social connection plays in their health and wellbeing. As such, social connection guidelines can help Canadians be more conscious and intentional about their social health, for their own benefit or in recognizing the role that each of us can play in the lives of other Canadians.”
In addition to allowing The GenWell Project to work on the Canadian Social Connection Guidelines and conduct the Canadian Social Connection Survey, the funds will also help the organization expand current initiatives, and add new ones, including the upcoming first annual Canadian Human Connection Conference, being held this October.
For more information, please visit https://genwellproject.org/
About The GenWell Project
Established in 2016, The GenWell Project, a registered Canadian NFP, is a grassroots Global Human Connection Movement whose mission is to make the world a happier and healthier place by educating, empowering, and catalyzing people about the importance of face-to-face social connection as a proactive step we can all take for our health, happiness, and longevity, as well as for those around us. They share information, research, tips, tools and motivation through social channels and the website to help people create healthy connection habits starting today.