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Young people’s views on their role in the COVID-19 pandemic and society’s recovery from it
  1. Vic Larcher1,
  2. Mariana Dittborn1,
  3. James Linthicum1,
  4. Amy Sutton2,
  5. Joe Brierley1,
  6. Christopher Payne2,
  7. Hannah Hardy2
  8. On behalf of GOSH Young People's Forum
  1. 1 Paediatric Bioethics Centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital For Children NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Young people's Forum, Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre, London, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joe Brierley, Paediatric Intensive Care & Bioethics, National Institute for Health Research Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre, London WC1N 3JH, UK; joe.brierley{at}


Objective There has been little formal exploration of how young people see their role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design/setting Focus-group discussion with 15 Children’s Hospital Young People’s Forum members (23/5) to explore their perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on both their lives and those of their community, on school closures, and the role they wished to play in society’s recovery from the pandemic. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim using NVivo Software and analysed using an inductive thematic analysis approach.

Outcome Four major themes identified: (1) Awareness of pandemic’s impact on others: participants showed mature awareness of the effects on broader society, especially the elderly, socially disadvantaged and parents. (2) Perceived impact on their own lives: principal concerns were the educational and practical repercussions of school closures and social isolation, including effects on educational prospects. (3) Views about school reopening: young people understood the broader rationale for school reopening and were generally positive about it, but expressed concerned about their safety and that of others. (4) Communication issues: a need for clear, concise, understandable information readily accessible for young people was expressed. Up to now, they felt passive recipients rather than participants.

Conclusion Young people were concerned about their future, their family and broader society, consistent with a high level of moral development. They want to be active participants in social recovery, including concepts around return to school but require appropriate information and a means by which their voices can be heard. The alternative suggested roles as pawns or pathfinders were discounted.

  • ethics
  • adolescent health

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  • Contributors JB conceived the project after email exchange with the Editor in chief. VL and JB wrote the JME paper and blog which the YPF read before the focus group. AS leads the YP, and with MD and JL organised the focus group and contributed to the paper. MD and VL transcripted and JB, VL and MD analysed the data. All YP were invited to comment on why they might be authors, and we think they are all so good we include as an addendum. All authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. The data consist of the full transcripts, the audio recording has been destroyed.