Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on trainees of the Women’s Health Research Institute


In total, 119 trainees completed a survey seeking to understand the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on students and trainees engaged in women’s health research between May 6-June 30, 2020.   Trainees from across BC’s universities completed the survey and from across a range of training programs and fields of study.

Some key findings re: impacts of COVID-19 on trainees:

  1. 96% of trainees are worried about the overall impact of COVID-19 on their physical, mental, and professional well-being. Including 10%who are “Very Worried”.
  2. COVID-19 has impacted trainees’ research progress. This includes 38.5%of trainees who reported that their ongoing graduate research has been “postponed, delayed, or cancelled”. Another 24.8% report that their planned graduate research has been “postponed, delayed, or cancelled”.
  3. Trainees are concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on multiple aspects of their research training and job prospects. For instance:
    • 48% of trainees are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned that they will not be able to complete data collection necessary to complete their thesis.
    • 76% of trainees are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned that they will not be able to present at conferences that have been delayed or postponed.
    • 65% of trainees are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned that they will not have prospects for a job in the near future.
  1. During the time two weeks prior to completing the survey, 37% of trainees reported that they are finding it “a challenge to cope”. Only 17%are “coping very successfully”.
  2. Trainees with caregiving responsibilities described additional challenges coping with COVID-19 containment measures. As one trainee shared: “The biggest impact for me has been on childcare, and capacity to do anything else – both in terms of time but also energy.”
  3. These are just preliminary findings but it’s clear that COVID-19 and its containment measures is yielding immense consequences for trainees engaged in women’s health research, across academic, professional, and personal domains. Other data across the survey reveal the remarkable persistence and creativity of our trainees during this time, and offer clues for ways that the WHRI can better support our trainee community to achieve academic, research, and professional goals during (and after) this global pandemic.

We look forward to sharing more of what we learn from the trainee survey.