Event Details

PHO Rounds: Youth Risk, Protective Factors, and Prevention Against Opioid and Drug Use

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian youth aged 15 to 24 faced worsening mental health and increased substance use, primarily opioids. Societal inequities have also exacerbated these issues. This Rounds presentation will present a study that aimed to establish evidence-based strategies for preventing substance use in this age group. This study sought to create a comprehensive approach to address drug use during primary and primordial stages, analyzing existing strategies in Ontario's public health units. The research, which combined a systematic literature review and qualitative interviews with 22 of 34 Ontario health units, highlighted essential factors influencing prevention efforts. These factors encompassed program planning, delivery, evaluation, community collaboration, youth involvement, and contextual elements. The study underscored the complex interplay of various risk and protective factors using the youths' social ecological model (SEM). Recognizing the importance of early interventions targeting adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and social determinants of health (SDOHs), the research emphasized the importance of implementation and the ongoing need for evaluation, shared insights, and adaptable models. A systemic community comprehensive approach emerged as crucial for prevention.

Intended audience: Public health unit staff, especially those working in harm reduction and youth health, public health professionals working in health promotion, public health leadership, MOHs/AMOHs, and public health physicians.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the risk, protective factors, and challenges faced by youth ages 15 to 24- years-old – related to opioids and unregulated substances from systematic reviews on evidence-based primordial and primary interventions.
  • Identify evidence-based strategies in public health units to prevent substance use among 15 to 24-year-olds.
  • Assess programs identified in the study and their effects on successful youth substance use prevention.
  • Reflect on their own public health practice including how to use continuous evaluation, best practice sharing, and adjustments in the field of youth substance use prevention.

Presenter(s): Dr. Rim Zayed, Dr. Jannah Wigle, Dr. Clara Juando-Pratts, Dr. Lami Sadare

Dr. Rim Zayed, MD, PhD, Public Health Physician Consultant, at Grey Bruce Public Health. Dr. Zayed obtained a Medical and Master’s degree in public health from Egypt, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the UK. Dr. Zayed has speciality training in Public Health and Preventative Medicine (PHPM) from the University of Ottawa. She possesses a unique blend of medical expertise and a profound understanding of population health dynamics. Her career has been defined by a special interest in strategic planning and the application of a comprehensive public health approach to tackle complex health challenges.

Dr. Jannah WigleClinical, PhD, Research Specialist III at the Applied Health Research Center, St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. She holds a PhD in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She is a qualitative researcher, passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights for youth, with extensive experience in global health, youth participation, and adolescent health.

Dr. Clara Juando-Prats, PhD, Investigator and Lead of the Qualitative Health Research and Patient Engagement Team at the Applied Health Research Center, St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto (U of T), and an academic fellow of the Critical Qualitative Health Research Center at U of T. She is a critical health scholar, an interdisciplinary qualitative researcher with an established program of research in patient-oriented research, health equity, and community-based research working with young people who are living in marginalizing circumstances. She is an internationally educated nurse holding a B.Sc., M.Sc., and a PhD in Nursing.

Dr. Lami Sadare, PhD, Public Health Manager at Grey Bruce Public Health, responsible for the Foundational Standards portfolio. Dr. Sadare is interested in Health Equity and SDOH, and their impacts on health and social outcomes, including how they contribute to youth substance use. She has a PhD in program evaluation from the UK.


The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.


Public Health Ontario Rounds are a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). In order to receive written documentation for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, please check “Yes” beside the question “Do you require CME credits?” on the registration form.

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Affiliate Members may count RCPSC credits toward their Mainpro+ credit requirements. All other CFPC members may claim up to 50 Certified credits per cycle for participation in RCPSC MOC Section 1 accredited activities.

PHO Rounds are also approved by the Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI).

For more information or for a record of registration for other Continuing Education purposes, please contact capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.


Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.

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Capacity Building


Updated 18 Oct 2023