• Saewyc, Elizabeth M.

    Scientist Level 2, CFRI
    Professor, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia
    CIHR/PHAC Chair in Public Health Research
    Affiliate Member, Division of Adolescent Medicine/Department of Pediatrics
    Research Director, McCreary Centre Society
    Degrees / Designations
    BSN(Hons), MN, PhD
    Primary Area of Research
    Evidence to Innovation
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address
    Room T201, 2211 Wesbrook Mall
    Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5
    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas

    Stigma and its influence on the sexual and mental health of vulnerable populations of youth, as well as coping and risk responses to sexual violence


    My research focuses on health issues of youth, with a particular emphasis on understanding how certain groups of young people are targeted and stigmatized, how this influences their coping and risk behaviours, and what protective factors in their relationships and environments can help buffer this risk and influence their health. The vulnerable groups targeted by stigma that I study include: sexual minority youth (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens), homeless and runaway youth, sexually-abused and sexually-exploited teens, pregnant and parenting adolescents, youth in custody, immigrant and refugee populations, and indigenous young people in Canada and other countries.

    Current Projects

    Select Current Projects:

    Enacted stigma, gender, and risk behaviours of school youth
    (funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse)
    A multi-site international study exploring the ways young people are targeted and stigmatized in school settings, such as being excluded, teased, or being threatened with or experiencing actual physical violence—this is what is meant by “enacted stigma.” While our focus is primarily on stigma related to sexual orientation, we are also looking at stigma among youth with disabilities and chronic conditions, and obese teens. Further, we are looking at the link between being targeted for stigma and HIV risk behaviours and problem substance abuse, as well as identifying protective factors that appear to reduce the risk behaviours, even in the presence of being targeted for stigma. After the primary analyses, we will conduct focus groups with youth, and people who work with teens, to identify strategies to reduce enacted stigma and to promote healthier behaviours among stigmatized youth. As part of this international study, we will be conducting cross-national comparisons within three different ethnic groups, in three different countries: European-heritage youth, Asian-heritage youth, and indigenous youth, in Canada , the US , and New Zealand.

    Stigma And Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Consortium
    (funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
    This interdisciplinary capacity enhancement grant brings together a new team of experienced researchers, new investigators, trainees and community partners to advance a program of research into the influences of stigma and trauma on health disparities of sexually-exploited and at-risk youth. This team of biomedical, clinical, health services and social science researchers is developing innovative, cross-cutting, complementary approaches to understanding stigmas influence on health at several levels: from individual biological traits and responses that affect behavioural choices for coping with stigma; to interpersonal and environment risk and protective factors that worsen or improve health outcomes for youth; to community- and population- level influences of stigma on health access and health policy for vulnerable groups. We will explore how to create ethically sensitive studies of this elusive population, and test new technniques for gathering data, including the use of computer and web technology. The goal of this program is to identify how stigma contributes to health disparities, as well as strengths and protective factors that can be changed which buffer youth from the effects of stigma, and then to develop and test effective interventions at the individual, family, community, and policy levels to reduce stigma and decrease health disparities for sexually-exploited and vulnerable youth.

    BC Adolescent Health Survey IV
    (Funded by the BC Inter-Ministry Committee, Child Health BC, and in part by CIHR)
    This is the 2008 cluster-stratified province-wide school-based anonymous pencil-and-paper health survey of students in grades 7-12 in BC (N=29,000+). The largest survey of its kind in Canada, measures include health & risk behaviors, risk exposures, and protective factors. The data will provide a 4th cohort for health trends among youth in BC (earlier surveys completed in 1992, 1998, 2003). These data also form the basis for a series of funded reports for provincial and federal government health bodies, including a focus on substance use, mental health issues, physical activity and obesity, Aboriginal health issues; they also are the key source of information for several projects that are funded as part of the CIHR/PHAC Chair in Public Health Research, including a focus on trends in violence exposure and various risk behaviours, effects of school-based policies around homophobic bullying, and trends in sexual health. 

    Selected Publications

    Mitchell K., Roberts A., Gilbert M., Homma Y., Warf C., Daly K, & Saewyc E. (2015). Improving the accuracy of Chlamydia trachomatis incidence rate estimates among adoelscents in Canada. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 24(1), 12-18. DOI: 10.3138/cjhs.24.1-A1.

    Ruck, M. D., Keating, D. P., Saewyc, E. M., Earls, F. and Ben-Arieh, A. (2014), The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Its Relevance for Adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence. doi: 10.1111/jora.12172

    Saewyc E, Clark T, Barney L Brunanski D, & Homma Y. (2014). Enacted stigma and HIV risk behaviors among sexual minority Indigenous adolescents in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 11(3), 411-420. 

    Saewyc E, Konishi C, Rose H, & Homma Y. (2014). School-based strategies to reduce suicidal ideation and attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual, as well as heterosexual adolescents in Western Canada. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 5, 89-112. 

    Edinburgh L, Pape-Blabolil J, Harpin SB, Saewyc E. 2014. Multiple perpetrator rape among girls evaluated at a hospital-based child advocacy center: Seven years of reviewed cases. Child Abuse Negl 38(9):1540-51. PMID: 24933707. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.05.008.

    Homma Y, Wong ST, Zumbo BD, Saewyc EM. 2014. Ethnic identity and sexual initiation among East Asian youth in Canada. J Immigr Minor Health . PMID: 25204622. DOI: 10.1007/s10903-014-0101-0.

    Hilario C, Vo D, Johnson J, & Saewyc E. (2014). Acculturation, gender, and mental health of young Southeast Asian immigrants in Canada. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 16(1). Doi: 10.1007/s10903-014-9978-x. 

    Homma Y., Zumbo B.D., Saewyc E., Wong S. (2014). Psychometric evaluation of the 6-item version of the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure with East Asian adolescents in Canada. Identity, 14, 1–18. 

    Konishi C., Saewyc E. (2013). Still a target: Sexual diversity and the power of caring. School Psychology International. DOI:10.1177/0143034313512407.

    Saewyc E, Miller B, Rivers R, Matthews J., Hilario C, & Hirakata P, (2013). Competing discourses about youth sexual exploitation in Canadian news media. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 22(2), 95-105. DOI: 10.3138/cjhs.2013.2041.  

    Book Chapters

    Saewyc E (2014). Chapter 8: Adolescent pregnancy among lesbian, gay and bisexual teens. In A. Cherry, M.E. Dillon, (eds.) International Handbook on Adolescent Pregnancy. New York: Springer Science+Business Media. Pp 159-169. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4899-8026-7_8. ISBN#978-1-4899-8025-0

    Peer-reviewed special report

    Dick B, Ferguson J, Saewyc E, Baltag V, & Bosek K. (14 May 2014). Health for the World’s Adolescents: A Second Chance in the Second Decade of Life. Geneva: World Health Organization.
    Honours & Awards

    Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences – 2013
    Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar, Career Investigator Award – 2004-2009

    National Institutes of Health Pediatric Research LRP award – 2003-2005

    National Research Service Award, Pre-doctoral Fellowship, National Institute of Nursing Research – 1998-2001

    Finalist, New Investigator Award, Society for Adolescent Medicine – 1997

    Research Group Members

    British Columbia

    Jayson Anderson (UBC)
    Brittany Bingham (SFU)
    David Brown, PhD (UBC, PHSA)
    Dana Brunanski (UBC)
    Jane Buxton, MD (BC CDC)
    Scott Carlson, PhD (UBC)
    Richard Carpiano, PhD (UBC)
    Weihong Chen, PhD (UBC)
    Marisa Collins, MD (UBC)
    Kim Daly, MS, RN (UBC)
    Christopher Drozda, MS (UBC)
    Angela Henderson, PhD, RN (UBC)
    Pam Hirakata, PhD (UBC)
    Yuko Homma, MS (UBC)
    Sarah Hunt, MS (UVic, MCS)
    Margaret Jackson, PhD (SFU)
    Semee Joo (UBC)
    Jennifer Lloyd, PhD (UBC)
    Laura MacKay, PhD (UBC)
    Stephanie Martin (MCS, BC)
    Jennifer Matthews, MS (UBC)
    Allison Murray (MCS, BC)
    Gina Ogilvie, MD (BC CDC)
    Bernie Pauly, PhD (UVic)
    Maya Peled, PhD (MCS, BC)
    Heather Peters, MSW (UNBC)
    Colleen Poon, PhD (MCS, BC)
    Jerilynn Prior, MD (UBC)
    Paddy Rodney, PhD, RN (UBC)
    Jean Shoveller, PhD (UBC)
    Sherry Simon (MCS, BC)
    Annie Smith, ALM (MCS, BC)
    Duncan Stewart, MS (MCS, BC)
    Sandy Whitehouse, MD (BCCH)


    Coco Auerswald, MD, MPH (San Francisco)


    Laurel Edinburgh, MSN, PNP
    Carolyn Garcia, PhD, MPH, MS, RN

    Emily Huehman, MA
    Eric Meininger, MD, MPH
    Kate Richtman, JD

    New Zealand

    Terryann Clark, PhH, MPH
    Elizabeth Robinson


    Melissa Northcott (Carlton, ON)


    Cheryl Kaiser, PhD (UW, Seattle)

    MSC: McCreary Centre Society, BC