#SafeHandsSafeHearts: An eHealth Intervention for COVID-19 Prevention and Support (COVID-19)

  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Toronto
Updated on 14 August 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


This project seeks to test the efficacy of a brief eHealth intervention in an international randomized controlled trial (RCT) to increase COVID-19 knowledge and protective behaviors, and reduce psychological distress among LGBT people. This project involves enrolling racially diverse samples of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in three cities, randomizing 900 people (stratified among cisengender men, cisgender women, and transgender people) to either the immediate behavioral intervention or the waitlist control condition. Participants will complete a baseline survey, a follow-up survey 2 weeks post-intervention, and a final survey 2 months after the post-intervention survey. Primary outcomes are COVID-19 transmission knowledge, COVID-19 protective behaviors, and psychological distress.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) populations are at heightened vulnerability to COVID-19 due to existing health disparities amid adverse social determinants of health (SDOH), rights violations, and social-structural constraints on public health recommended (PHR) protective measures. Yet, public health responses largely do not address LGBT+ vulnerabilities nor do they include LGBT+ communities in pandemic response planning.

As there is no manualized intervention for COVID-19 prevention, the investigators will adapt an efficacious eHealth intervention for preventing HIV infection and transmission, the deadliest pandemic of the last century. This study builds on evidence-based eHealth interventions using Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Psychoeducation to increase health knowledge and behaviors, and reduce psychological distress, including interventions with LGBT+ people.

MI is a client-centered counseling approach that elicits and strengthens intrinsic motivation for change. Psychoeducation integrates education and counseling to promote mental health. Peer counselors will receive 5 days of online training on COVID-19, PHR behaviors, pandemic stress (anxiety, depression, social isolation), MI-based counselling, psychoeducation, and research ethics. The 3 primary study outcomes are increasing COVID-19 knowledge, PHR protective behaviors, and reducing psychological distress; these are crucial elements of public health approaches to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

#SafeHandsSafeHearts is a 3-session peer-delivered MI-based brief counselling (45 min-1 hr) with weekly individual sessions. Participants will be recruited online with electronic flyers and social media messages developed with community-based organization (CBO) partners, and distributed through CBO social media accounts and listservs in each of the three study sites (Toronto, Bangkok, Mumbai), and a study website. Participants will be randomized to the immediate intervention group or waitlist control group at a 1:1 ratio, stratified by sex and gender (cisgender men, cisgender women, transgender people), using a computer-generated sequence. All participants will complete a baseline survey, a post-intervention follow-up survey 2 weeks after completing the intervention, and a final survey 2 months after post-intervention survey.

NOTE: Due to pandemic-related delays and lockdowns, and Toronto site approvals and opening 6-months prior to Bangkok and Mumbai, Toronto site is a pilot intervention to inform feasibility, acceptability, and implementation of the RCT; Bangkok and Mumbai sites remain RCTs.

Condition Covid19
Treatment eHealth for Covid-19 prevention and support
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04870723
SponsorUniversity of Toronto
Last Modified on14 August 2022

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