Relying on Young Ambassadors to bolster COVID-19 study recruitment and participation

  • Traci Hayes University of Southern Mississippi
  • Wendy White Tougaloo College
Keywords: COVID-19, young adults, ambassadors, community engagement, social media, communication


In June 2020, young adults comprised 20% of the COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic individuals were seen as “carriers” taking the virus into their homes and social settings. As with many health issues, the minority population was dealing with worse health outcomes.  African Americans young adults were not excluded from this circumstance. In Mississippi, the group had some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the state. Additionally, some young people across Mississippi were expressing that they felt unengaged and left out of the discussions on COVID-19.  These concerns prompted the research project, Young Adults Against COVID-19 (YAACOV), a project under the Mississippi Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities (MS CEAL), funded by the National Institutes of Health. YAACOV was initiated to explore the perceptions, knowledge and coping strategies of 18 – 29-year-old African American young adults in Mississippi. To reach the recruitment goals, the YAACOV study team employed Young Ambassadors to help promote and recruit other young adults to participate in the study. The Young Ambassador initiative is the focus of the current case.