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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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Adolescents at risk of mental health problems in the COVID‐19 pandemic: a prospective population‐based study of the effects of government mandates and school closures

Lisa K. Mundy; Louise Canterford; S. Ghazaleh Dashti (et al.)

Published: January 2023   Journal: Australian Journal of Social Issues
There is increasing evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic has had substantial mental health impacts for adolescents. Yet, few definitive studies have investigated which adolescents were at higher risk of poor mental health and well-being during the pandemic. Data were drawn from the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study, a prospective cohort study of students in Australia (N = 1211). Prevalence of mental health outcomes (depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, self-harm and good subjective well-being) was estimated in school Years 5–12, where Years 11 (2020) and 12 (2021) coincided with the pandemic. The age- and sex-adjusted relative risk of each mental health outcome for each priority group during the pandemic were estimated.
Disruption, slowness, and collective effervescence: children's perspectives on COVID-19 lockdowns

Tobia Fattore; Gabrielle Drake; Jan Falloon (et al.)

Published: January 2023   Journal: International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice
The COVID-19 pandemic represented not only a health crisis, but a social crisis for children, one that has disrupted notions of what a good childhood is. However, the longer-term implications of the pandemic are still to be seen, for children, their families and communities. This article is concerned with what these ongoing changes may be, based on a qualitative multi-stage study that asks children about their experiences of well-being before the pandemic, during lockdowns and post-COVID-19 lockdowns. This included asking seven children in online semi-structured interviews about what aspects of life brought on by COVID-19 restrictions they would like to see continue post-lockdown.
Alcohol use among Australian parents during the COVID-19 pandemic – April-2020 to May 2021

C. J. Greenwood; M. Fuller-Tyszkiewicz; D. M. Hutchinson (et al.)

Published: January 2023   Journal: Addictive Behaviors

This study examined the trajectory of alcohol use frequency among parents from April-2020 to May-2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Victoria, Australia (who experienced one of the longest lockdowns in the world), compared to parents from the other states of Australia (who experienced relatively fewer restrictions). We further examined the extent to which baseline demographic factors were associated with changes in alcohol use trajectories among parents. Data were from the COVID-19 Pandemic Adjustment Survey (2,261 parents of children 0–18 years). Alcohol use frequency was assessed over 13 waves. Baseline demographic predictors included parent gender, age, speaking a language other than English, number of children, partnership status, education, employment, and income.

Inequalities in access to mental health treatment by Australian youths during the COVID-19 pandemic

Caroline X. Gao; Lachlan P. McDonald; Matthew P. Hamilton (et al.)

Published: November 2022   Journal: Psychiatric Services

The authors aimed to evaluate changes in use of government-subsidized primary mental health services, through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), by young people during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and whether changes were associated with age, sex, socioeconomic status, and residence in particular geographical areas. Interrupted time-series analyses were conducted by using quarterly mental health MBS service data (all young people ages 12–25 years, 2015–2020) for individual Statistical Area Level 3 areas across Australia. The data captured >22.4 million service records. Meta-analysis and meta-regression models estimated the pandemic interruption effect at the national level and delineated factors influencing these estimates.

Playgroup families' experiences of play-based remote learning

Victoria Minson; Karen McLean

Published: November 2022   Journal: Australasian Journal of Early Childhood
This qualitative study aimed to investigate enablers and barriers facing community-playgroup families in the provision of play opportunities for children throughout periods of lockdown restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study used a capabilities approach, focussing specifically on the concepts of resources, capabilities and functionings. Using case study methodology, the study comprised two case studies and involved five community-playgroup families. Data methods included semi-structured interviews with playgroup families and the use of audio data from Zoom™ workshops conducted with families in each case study. A thematic approach to data analysis identified seven themes characterising identified enablers and barriers. These were: internet and networked technologies, ideas and information, routines and structure, relationships, space, everyday life, and support. Implications for how playgroups can support children and families in post pandemic times are discussed.
Bear in a window: Australian children's perspectives on lockdown and experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic

Barbara F. Kelly; Chloé Diskin-Holdaway

Published: November 2022   Journal: Children & Society
This paper examines the reflections of a cohort of Australian children who lived through the 2020–21 COVID-19 pandemic and experienced being in ‘lockdown’; a state of largely being confined to the home for long periods daily. It reports how children reflect on their experiences and illustrates how reflections draw on similar topics focused on localised child concerns regarding health, education, family, digital engagement, mealtimes and food. Further, it argues for the importance of including children's own voices of lived experience in reports regarding life during the pandemic since these perspectives may differ from those reported by adults on children's behalf.
Children, COVID, and confusion: how frontline workers cope with the challenges of vaccine mandates

Jake Harvey; Katie Attwell

Published: November 2022   Journal: Australian Journal of Public Administration
With the emergence of COVID-19, many governments around the world co-oped non-health actors into enforcing comprehensive mandatory vaccination policies. Implementing these policies can be challenging, creating irreconcilable goals and problems with knowledge and understanding of areas outside the implementers’ direct field of expertise or scope of work. We know very little about how such frontline workers cope with these challenges associated with implementing policies whose goals lie well outside their remit (which we describe as generating exogenous policy pressures), and what this means for the operation of the policies. This article uses policies in place prior to the pandemic to fill this gap. It examines attitudes and experiences of frontline childcare educators who implement Australia's No Jab, No Play childhood vaccine mandate policies within the states of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.
The directionality of anxiety and gaming disorder: an exploratory analysis of longitudinal data from an Australian youth population

Seungyeon Kim; Katrina E. Champion; Lauren A. Gardner (et al.)

Published: November 2022   Journal: Frontiers in Psychiatry
Gaming activities among adolescents have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing with it a growing concern for the potential harms of excessive gaming and its risk factors. Anxiety is frequently linked with gaming disorder, but studies investigating this association were mostly cross-sectional in design. Longitudinal studies that explore risk factors associated with gaming disorder are sparse and the trajectories of gaming disorder remain unclear. To address this paucity, the present study analyzed a large longitudinal dataset with a 12-month follow-up of 4,968 Australian adolescents (ages 13–14) during the pandemic. Logistic regression and multiple regression analyses were conducted to investigate the temporal relationships between anxiety, gaming frequency, the amount of money spent within video games, and gaming disorder.
Preschooler stressor-related thoughts and worries during the COVID-19 pandemic: development and validation of a caregiver-report instrument

M. Vasileva; M. L. Marsac; E. Alisic (et al.)

Published: November 2022   Journal: Traumatology
There is little evidence on cognitions that are associated with emotional and behavioral problems in preschoolers during stressful events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This article presents the initial development and validation of a caregiver-report instrument, the Preschooler Stressor-related Thoughts and Worries (PSTW) scale, developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, caregivers from two countries reported on their child’s cognitions at baseline (T₀) and three months later (T₁; age 3–5 years; Australia: N = 559; United States: N = 346). Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted with the Australian sample at T₀ and confirmed with the U.S. sample at T₀. Exploratory factor analysis suggested a one-factor model including 10 items.
Family satisfaction with ICU communication during the COVID-19 pandemic: a prospective multi-centre Australian study

Mallikarjuna Reddy Ponnapa Reddy; Umesh Kadam; John Dong Young Lee (et al.)

Published: November 2022   Journal: Internal Medicine Journal

Virtual communication has become common practice during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic because of visitation restrictions. The authors aimed to evaluate overall family satisfaction with the intensive care unit (FS-ICU) care involving virtual communication strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic period. In this prospective multicentre study involving three metropolitan hospitals in Melbourne, Australia, the next of kin (NOK) of all eligible ICU patients between 1 July 2020 and 31 October 2020 were requested to complete an adapted version of the FS-ICU 24-questionnaire. Group comparisons were analysed and calculated for family satisfaction scores: ICU/care (satisfaction with care), FS-ICU/dm (satisfaction with information/decision-making) and FS-ICU/total (overall satisfaction with the ICU). The essential predictors that influence family satisfaction were identified using quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a primary school setting with and without public health measures using real-world contact data: a modelling study

Lixiang Yan; Stella Talic; Holly Wild (et al.)

Published: October 2022   Journal: Journal of Global Health

Stringent public health measures have been shown to influence the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within school environments. We investigated the potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a primary school setting with and without public health measures, using fine-grained physical positioning traces captured before the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 172.63 million position data from 98 students and six teachers from an open-plan primary school were used to predict a potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in primary school settings.

Sport parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic: perceptions of parents and youth in Australia

Sam Elliott; Aurélie Pankowiak; Rochelle Eime (et al.)

Published: October 2022   Journal: Psychology of Sport and Exercise
Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on parental involvement in youth sport is largely unknown. The objective of the study presented in this paper was to understand parental involvement in relation to their child’s participation in organised sport during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using an interpretive descriptive methodology, online qualitative interviews and online focus groups with parents and youth (15–18 years) (n = 29) were conducted during June 2020. Following a rigorous reflexive thematic analysis, four themes illustrated the nature of sport parenting during this stressful and uncertain period: (a) reshaping sport parenting identity, (b) the unexpected growth of sport parenting responsibilities, (c) responding to children’s loss of sport, and (d) policies impact family commitment and attitudes to returning to sport. The findings are discussed considering Harwood and Knight’s (2015) postulates of parenting expertise in sport and offer potential ideas to better support parents and children situated in unexpectedly stressful situations.
Effects of varying pandemic restrictions on the health-related behaviours of Australian children

Lauren Robinson; Mary-Anne Measey; Daryl Efron (et al.)

Published: October 2022   Journal: Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

This study aimed to explore the effects of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions varying in severity and duration on health-related behaviours in children aged 5–17 years. It used data from the Royal Children's Hospital National Child Health Poll, an online cross-sectional survey of Australian caregivers. The survey assessed 1222 caregivers' perceived changes in health-related behaviours (physical activity, sleep, screen-time, diet, outdoor activity, family and peer connectedness) of 2011 children aged 5–17 years in a typical week from June to September 2020 (when jurisdictions experienced varying restriction severity and duration) compared to retrospective reports of behaviour before March 2020 (pre-pandemic). To compare the effects of varying restriction severity in Victoria, New South Wales (NSW) and other states and territories on health-related behaviours binary logistic regression was used, adjusting for caregiver demographics and weighted to reflect Australia's parent population.

Identifying factors for poorer educational outcomes that may be exacerbated by COVID-19: a systematic review focussing on at-risk school children and adolescents

Laetitia Coles; Melissa Johnstone; Cassandra Pattinson (et al.)

Published: September 2022   Journal: Australian Journal of Social Issues
School closures across Australia in response to COVID-19 have persisted since 2020, with rising mental health problems in children and adolescents, alongside rising negative family health and socioeconomic outcomes. Further, some children and young people who were already experiencing disadvantage pre-pandemic may be at heightened risk of poorer educational outcomes. Therefore, the aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to identify the factors for poorer educational outcomes that may be exacerbated by COVID-19 amongst disadvantaged school students. Key development stages of disadvantage were identified: young children who started school behind, older students already at risk of disengagement from school and children and young people who have had contact with the child protection system. Five databases were systematically searched, across two search periods. A total of 69 Australian, peer-reviewed articles, published in 2005–2021, examining risk factors for poor educational outcomes for children attending school met the inclusion criteria and were included in final analyses.
Care in the time of COVID: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the impact of COVID-19 control measures on post-partum mothers' experiences of pregnancy, birth and the health system

Mikhayl A. von Rieben; Leanne Boyd; Jade Sheen (et al.)

Published: September 2022   Journal: Frontiers in Psychology

Findings suggest pandemic control measures have modified maternal health practices, compromising the quality of care provided to new and expectant mothers and interfering with their birthing experiences. For this reason, this study explored the lived experiences of post-partum Victorian mothers during the pandemic as well as the potential influence of control measures over their perceptions regarding the health system. This study used a qualitative approach. Recruitment was conducted between May and June 2021, using both the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s social media pages and snowball recruitment. Interviews were semi-structured using open-ended questions relating to key themes. Seven Victorian post-partum mothers were identified and their transcripts analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

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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.


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