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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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1 - 15 of 78
A cross-sectional study investigating Canadian and Australian adolescents' perceived experiences of COVID-19: gender differences and mental health implications.

Riana Marie; Audrey-Ann Journault; Rebecca Cernik (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The coronavirus (COVID-19) disease pandemic has been associated with adverse psychological outcomes. This cross-cultural study (N = 1326, 71% female) aimed to investigate Canadian and Australian adolescents’ subjective experiences of COVID-19, gender differences, and psychological implications. Mixed-methods analyses were used to examine differences in COVID-19 experiences and mental health outcomes between country and gender in a Canadian (N = 913, 78% female) and an Australian sample (N = 413, 57% female) of adolescents. Canadian adolescents reported increased COVID-19 discussions and more concerns related to their COVID-19 experiences compared to Australian adolescents.
Mental health symptoms in children and adolescents during COVID-19 in Australia

Gemma Sicouri; Sonja Marc; Elizabeth Pellicano (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry

COVID-19 has led to disruptions to the lives of Australian families through social distancing, school closures, a temporary move to home-based online learning, and effective lockdown. Understanding the effects on child and adolescent mental health is important to inform policies to support communities as they continue to face the pandemic and future crises. This paper sought to report on mental health symptoms in Australian children and adolescents during the initial stages of the pandemic (May to November 2020) and to examine their association with child/family characteristics and exposure to the broad COVID-19 environment. An online baseline survey was completed by 1327 parents and carers of Australian children aged 4 to 17 years. Parents/carers reported on their child’s mental health using five measures, including emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, anxiety symptoms and depressive symptoms. Child/family characteristics and COVID-related variables were measured.

Inequalities in the distribution of COVID-19 related financial difficulties for Australian families with young children

Meredith O'Connor; Christopher J. Greenwood; Primrose Letcher (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: Child

This study examined (1) the frequency of financial difficulties in Australian families with young children (0–8 years) in the early and later phases of the pandemic; (2) the extent to which parents' pre-pandemic socio-economic disadvantage (SED) predicted financial difficulties; and (3) whether grandparent intergenerational SED further amplified this risk. Australian Temperament Project (ATP; established 1983, N = 2443) and ATP Generation 3 study (ATPG3; established 2012; N = 702), of which 74% (N = 553) completed a COVID-specific module in the early (May–September 2020) and/or later (October–December 2021) phases of the pandemic. Outcomes: Parent-reported loss of employment/reduced income, difficulty paying for essentials, and financial strain. Exposures: Pre-pandemic parent and grandparent education and occupation. Analysis: Logistic regressions, estimated via generalized estimating equations, were used to examine associations between the pre-pandemic SED of parents and grandparents and their interaction with financial difficulties, adjusting for potential confounders.

Families’ and professionals’ perspectives of building and maintaining engagement in telepractice early intervention for young children with communication disability

Felipe Retamal-Walter; Monique Waite; Nerina Scarinci

Published: March 2022   Journal: Disability and Rehabilitation

This paper aimed to explore and describe families’ and professionals’ perspectives about building and maintaining engagement in telepractice early intervention (EI). Individual semi-structured reflexive interviews were conducted with Australian families of young children with communication disability receiving telepractice EI and their treating professionals. These interviews were conducted within one day of a telepractice EI session and analysed using thematic analysis.

Companionship and worries in uncertain times: Australian parents’ experiences of children and pets during COVID-19

Shannon K. Bennets; Sharinne B. Crawford; Tiffani Howell (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: Anthrozoös
Companion animals (pets), especially cats and dogs, have featured regularly in the media and public discourse during the global COVID-19 pandemic, including increased demand for pet adoption and more time spent with existing pets. This qualitative study aimed to describe the experiences of Australian parents with a child under 18 years and a cat or dog. Within a broader survey, parents were asked open-ended questions about the benefits and challenges for their family of living with a cat or dog during COVID-19, and where relevant, about reasons for adopting a new pet. Data were collected between July and October 2020, during Australia’s “second wave” of COVID-19, when some Australians were subject to strict physical distancing or “stay at home” orders. A total of 611 parents provided at least one free-text response.
Psychosocial factors associated with adolescent depressive and anxiety symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic

Alison Fogarty; Stephanie Brown; Deirdre Gartland (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: International Journal of Behavioral Development
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for adolescents across the world. The current study aimed to investigate the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms and suicidal ideation in adolescents living in Melbourne, Australia, during the state of Victoria’s second lockdown. The study also sought to identify pre-existing and current psychosocial stressors associated with adolescent’s depressive and anxiety symptoms, and to identify the extent to which adolescents experiencing mental health difficulties sought professional help during the pandemic. A COVID-19 sub-study of the Mothers’ and Young People’s Study—an 18-year longitudinal cohort study—was conducted between July and September 2020, an online survey completed by 257 adolescents aged 14–17 years and their mothers, which asked about pandemic-related stressors, remote learning, family life, and mental health. Descriptive statistics and hierarchical multiple regression analysis were conducted.
Associations between anxiety and home learning difficulties in children and adolescents with ADHD during the COVID-19 pandemic

Anna Jackson; Glenn A. Melvin; Melissa Mulraney (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: Child Psychiatry & Human Development
The COVID-19 pandemic has markedly impacted functioning for children and adolescents including those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study explored home learning difficulties (HLD) during COVID-19 restrictions in Australian children (aged 5–17) with ADHD, aiming to: (1) describe home learning experiences, and (2) examine associations between child anxiety (i.e., concurrent anxiety symptoms and pre-existing anxiety disorder status) and HLD. Baseline data from the longitudinal ADHD COVID-19 Survey were used (n = 122). Parents reported on school factors and HLD; pre-existing anxiety and co-occurring difficulties; anxiety, ADHD, and oppositional symptoms; demographics; and medications. Parents retrospectively reported more children often looked forward to school pre-pandemic, than during the pandemic. Anxiety symptoms, but not pre-existing anxiety disorder status, were associated with HLD after accounting for covariates. ADHD inattention symptoms were also associated with HLD. Results support recommendations to continue pre-pandemic supports to assist with ADHD symptoms during home learning, and strategies/supports for families are discussed.
Early childhood educators’ psychological distress and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Emily Berger; Gloria Quinones; Melissa Barnes (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: Early Childhood Research Quarterly
There is growing awareness of the impacts of COVID-19 on children, families, and more recently, early childhood educators. This study aimed to add to this research and explore Australian early childhood educators’ psychological distress and wellbeing in relation to COVID-19. Accordingly, 205 educators (117 early childhood educators, 86 leaders and 2 others) completed the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, measuring levels of post-traumatic distress, and an open-ended question on wellbeing, both in relation to COVID-19. Educators’ responses to the open-ended question were matched to those who scored high, medium, and low on the Impact of Events Scale-Revised.
Longitudinal trajectories of mental health and loneliness for Australian adolescents with-or-without neurodevelopmental disorders: the impact of COVID-19 school lockdowns

Stephen Houghton; Michael Kyron; David Lawrence (et al.)

Published: February 2022   Journal: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

The impact of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic school lockdowns on the mental health problems and feelings of loneliness of adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) is hypothesized to be greater than that of their non-NDD peers. This two and a half year longitudinal study compared changes in the mental health and loneliness of Western Australian adolescents pre-COVID-19 (November 2018 and April 2019), immediately prior to COVID-19 school lockdowns (March 2020), and post schools reopening (July/August 2020). An age-and-gender matched sample of 476 adolescents with-or-without NDDs completed online assessments for mental health and loneliness.

Education and an ethics of care when working with refugee families during COVID-19

Anne Keary; Andrea Reupert; Mervi Kaukko (et al.)

Published: February 2022   Journal: Early Years
Provision of early childhood education and care services for refugee families took on heightened challenges during COVID-19 restrictions. This study undertook a small-scale study to explore how Australian educators worked with and cared for refugee families during the COVID-19 outbreak in an urban Australian setting. This study emerges from a larger project that aimed to support social inclusion and cultural and linguistic diversity for refugee families in Australia. It draws on two group interviews conducted during a COVID-19 lockdown with four educators working with refugee families in early childhood education and care. Data analysis is framed by the ethics of care work of Carol Gilligan and Nel Noddings. On the basis of these theories and the interview data, two vignettes on an ethics of care were developed. The importance of being cared for and cared about and genuinely listening were identified as crucial aspects of the care provided to refugee children and their families.
Adolescents' longitudinal trajectories of mental health and loneliness: the impact of COVID-19 school closures

Stephen Houghton; Michael Kyron; Simon C. Hunter (et al.)

Published: February 2022   Journal: Journal of Adolescence

Longitudinal research examining the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) school closures on the mental health of adolescents is scarce. Prolonged periods of physical and social isolation because of such restrictions may have impacted heavily on adolescents’ mental health and loneliness. The current study addresses a major gap by examining the impact of school closures on the mental health and loneliness of 785, 10- to 17-year-old Western Australian adolescents (mean age = 14.1, SD = 1.31), who were surveyed across four time points: twice before COVID-19, once as schools closed, and once post reopening of schools. Pre- and post-COVID-19 changes in mental health and loneliness were compared using linear mixed models. Random intercept cross-lagged panel models (RI-CLPMs) assessed temporal associations between loneliness, depression symptoms, and positive mental wellbeing.

Socioecological correlates associated with muscle-strengthening exercise at home during COVID-19 among adolescents: the our life at home study

Kate Parker; Jo Salmon; Nicola D. Ridgers (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Journal of Sports Sciences
This study examined adolescent muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE) participation at home and associated socioecological correlates during Australia’s initial COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Adolescents (N = 731, Mage = 16.3, SD = 1.2 years, 73% female) self-reported their MSE participation in February 2020 (pre-lockdown; at a gym or at home) and April/May (during lockdown; at home only as gyms were closed). They also reported a range of potential individual, family, and home environment correlates. Remoteness and area-level socioeconomic disadvantage were also considered. Logistic regression models examined potential correlates of participation in any MSE and MSE engagement ≥3 times/week during April/May. Fewer adolescents participated in MSE during April/May (48%) than February (54%), however, the proportions that engaged in MSE ≥3 times/week were the same (30%). Prioritising being active every day (OR = 2.43, 95% CI = 1.52, 3.90), being active with sibling/s ≥ 5 days/week (OR = 2.24, 95% CI = 1.00, 5.00) and access to weights at home (OR = 2.98, 95% CI = 1.94, 4.57) were associated with higher odds of any MSE participation at home during April/May. These variables were also positively associated with MSE participation at home ≥3 times/week. Understanding how to support adolescents to prioritise being active, engage in MSE with siblings, and provide equipment may assist adolescents to engage in home-based MSE.
Psychosocial impacts of home-schooling on parents and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Alison L. Calear; Sonia McCallum; Alyssa R. Morse (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: BMC Public Health volume

The COVID-19 pandemic has been highly disruptive, with the closure of schools causing sudden shifts for students, educators and parents/caregivers to remote learning from home (home-schooling). Limited research has focused on home-schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic, with most research to date being descriptive in nature. The aim of the current study was to comprehensively quantify the psychosocial impacts of home-schooling on parents and other caregivers, and identify factors associated with better outcomes. A nationally representative sample of 1,296 Australian adults was recruited at the beginning of Australian COVID-19 restrictions in late-March 2020, and followed up every two weeks. Data for the current study were drawn from waves two and three. Surveys assessed psychosocial outcomes of psychological distress, work and social impairment, and wellbeing, as well as a range of home-schooling factors.

SARS-CoV-2 infections and public health responses in schools and early childhood education and care centres in Victoria, Australia: an observational study

Kathleen Ryan; Kathryn Snow; Margie Danchin (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific
The epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in children is an important consideration for control measures. To inform the safe re-opening of Victorian schools and early childhood education and care (ECEC) in late 2020, a detailed analysis of local data was undertaken. Data on all Victorian SARS-CoV-2 confirmed cases, their close contacts, and ECEC/school events from the first case in Victoria to the end of the third school term (25/01/2020 – 18/09/2020) were analysed. This study compared temporal and geographic trends in cases linked to ECEC/school events and community cases; and describe events with onward transmission by age of first case, and public health actions.
Responding to women experiencing domestic and family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic: exploring experiences and impacts of remote service delivery in Australia
Published: January 2022   Journal: Child & Family Social Work
The COVID-19 health pandemic has increased women's vulnerability to all forms of domestic and family violence (DFV). In the first weeks of March 2020, most Australian states and territories, like many other jurisdictions, entered into a period of government-directed restrictions including stay-at-home orders, physical distancing limitations and closure of a significant number of community services. With more people confined to their homes, the risk of DFV increased at the same time as access to support services was reduced. This article presents the findings of two surveys conducted in the Australian states of Victoria and Queensland to explore the professional experiences of practitioners supporting women experiencing violence during the pandemic. This analysis offers new insights into the ways in which practitioners pivoted their services to respond remotely to women experiencing violence and the challenges of effectively undertaking safety planning and risk assessment without face-to-face contact. The second half of this article examines the implications of remote service delivery on practitioner mental health and well-being.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.


Read the latest quarterly digest on children and disabilities.

The second digest discussed children and violence during the pandemic.

The first digest covers children and youth mental health under COVID-19.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.