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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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Experiences of family violence among 2SLGBTQ + youth at risk of, and experiencing, homelessness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Alex Abramovich; Nelson Pang; Amanda Moss

Published: June 2022   Journal: Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health

Family violence is the leading cause of homelessness among youth; however, limited research has examined family violence among 2SLGBTQ + youth experiencing homelessness. The objective of this study was to engage a group of 2SLGBTQ + youth at risk of, and experiencing, homelessness in the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding areas in Ontario, Canada, to examine their experiences of family violence before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2SLGBTQ + youth at risk of, and experiencing, homelessness and key informants (service providers) participated in online surveys and one-on-one interviews to assess family violence during the pandemic. Qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed separately and merged for interpretation.

Weighing in on COVID-19: The impact of the pandemic on children and adolescents with obesity participating in a weight management program.

Barkha P. Patel; Thrmiga Sathiyamoorthy; Mohana Giruparajah (et al.)

Published: June 2022   Journal: Pediatric Obesity

COVID-19 mitigation measures, including closures of schools and recreational facilities and alterations in eating behaviours and physical activity, may impact weight. This study aimed to examine changes in body weight and body mass index (BMI) in children and adolescents with obesity participating in an obesity treatment program before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, Canada. Body weight and BMI at baseline and 6 months were recorded for the ‘historic’ cohort (females = 34, males = 21) before the pandemic (November 1, 2018, to March 18, 2020) and for the ‘pandemic’ cohort (females = 30, males = 30) during the pandemic (March 19, 2020 to July 31, 2021). Analyses were adjusted for baseline weight/BMI, age, and ON-Marg score, a measure of the social determinants of health.

Rate of adolescent inpatient admission for psychosis during the COVID-19 pandemic: a retrospective chart review.

Barbara Deren; Katherine Matheson; Paula Cloutier (et al.)

Published: June 2022   Journal: Early Intervention in Psychiatry

Given the concerns for mental health (MH) impacts on children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the relative paucity of research in this field, this retrospective study compares the rate of paediatric inpatient MH admissions for psychosis for a period of 11 months before and during the pandemic. This study used administrative data to compare the rate and clinical characteristics of patients (<18 years) admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit for a psychotic illness before (March 17, 2019 to February 17, 2020) and during (March 17, 2020 to February 17, 2021) the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental health profiles of autistic children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic

Marina Charalampopoulou; Eun Jung Choi; Daphne J. Korczak (et al.)

Published: June 2022   Journal: Paediatrics & Child Health

Canadian province-wide lockdowns have challenged children’s mental health (MH) during the COVID-19 pandemic, with autistic children being at particular risk. The purpose of this study was to identify sub-groups of autistic children with distinct mental health change profiles, to understand the child-, parent-, and system-specific factors associated with such profiles in order to ultimately inform future interventions. Data were drawn from a large Canadian cohort (N=1,570) across Ontario, resulting in 265 autistic children (mean age=10.9 years, 76% male). K-means clustering analyses were employed to partition distinct MH profiles in six MH measures (mood, anxiety, OCD symptoms, irritability, inattention, hyperactivity) and group differences were examined with reference to the above factors.

Mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children with underlying health and disability issues, and their families and health care providers

David B. Nicholas; Rosslynn T. Zulla; Olivia Conlon (et al.)

Published: June 2022   Journal: Paediatrics & Child Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted mental health at a population level. Families of children with health vulnerabilities have been disproportionately affected by pandemic-related policies and service disruptions as they substantially rely on the health and social care system. This study elicited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children with health and disability-related vulnerabilities, their families, and their health care providers (HCPs).
Youth mental health and/or addiction concerns and service needs during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative exploration of caregiver experiences and perspectives.

Roula Markoulakis; Andreina Da Silva; Sugy Kodeeswaran (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on youth mental health and/or addiction concerns and exacerbated pre-existing gaps in access to mental health and/or addiction care. Caregivers can support their youth in seeking and participating in care, however, their experiences in doing so in the pandemic and their perspectives of their youth’s care needs are not well-understood. A descriptive qualitative study was conducted to better understand youth’s and caregivers’ experiences accessing care during the pandemic, from the caregivers’ standpoint. Participants completed semi-structured qualitative interviews that focused on experiences seeking and accessing mental health and/or addiction services, with specific questions regarding their experiences accessing services during the pandemic. A total of 46 interviews were included in the thematic analysis of the data.
COVID-19-related anxiety and trauma symptoms predict decreases in body image satisfaction in children.

Philip Aucoin; Olivia Gardam; Elizabeth St. John (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Child Psychiatry & Human Development
The present study investigated short-term longitudinal effects of COVID-19-related trauma and separation, social, and generalized anxiety symptoms on children’s body image satisfaction. Participants were 247 Canadian children (121 boys, 123 girls) aged between 7 and 12 years (M = 9.04). Two cohorts of parents were recruited to complete a questionnaire at two time points on their children’s body image satisfaction and COVID-19-related trauma and anxiety symptoms. The first cohort (n = 136 children) was recruited in Summer 2020 and the second cohort (n = 111 children) was recruited in Winter 2021. For each cohort, follow-up surveys were completed approximately five months later, therefore covering an entire year with both cohorts.
Fear of illness & virus evaluation (FIVE) COVID-19 scales for children-parent/caregiver-report development and validation

Estefany Sáez-Clarke; Jonathan S. Comer; Angela Evans (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Journal of Anxiety Disorders

Commonly-used youth anxiety measures may not comprehensively capture fears, worries, and experiences related to the pervasive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study described the development of the Fear of Illness and Virus Evaluation (FIVE) scales and validated the caregiver-report version. After initial development, feedback was obtained from clinicians and researchers, who provided suggestions on item content/wording, reviewed edits, and provided support for the updated FIVE’s content and face validity. Factor structure, measurement invariance, and psychometric properties were analyzed using data from a multi-site, longitudinal study of COVID-19-related effects on family functioning with 1599 caregivers from the United States and Canada.

'We can play tag with a stick'. Children's knowledge, experiences, feelings and creative thinking during the COVID‐19 pandemic

Nwakerendu Waboso; Laurel Donison; Rebecca Raby (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Children & Society
Using a relational approach, this study draws on repeated interviews with a group of 30 diverse children from Ontario to share and reflect on their knowledge, experiences and feelings early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Prioritising relational interdependence and relational agency, this paper illustrates our participants' embedded engagements with the pandemic and their contribution to the co-production of knowledge. It emphasises their thoughtful responses to the pandemic; their creative, self-reflexive strategies for managing a difficult time; and their advice to others. It thus prioritises children's viewpoints and emphasises their relational interconnections with others during a time that was marked by social isolation.
Movement behaviours and health of children and youth with disabilities: impact of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic

Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos; Maeghan E. James; Sarah A. Moore (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Paediatrics & Child Health

This study examined the acute and longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the movement behaviours and health of children and youth with disabilities (CYD) in Canada. Eighty-six parents of CYD completed an online survey twice (May 2020 and November 2020). Interviews were completed with seven families in March 2021.

Cite this research | Open access | Vol.: 27 | Issue: Supplement 1 | No. of pages: 66-71 | Language: English | Topics: Health | Tags: adolescent health, care of disabled children, child health, COVID-19 response, disabled children, lockdown, social distance | Countries: Canada
Disparities in high schools' vaccination coverage (COVID-19): a natural experiment in the Province of Quebec.

Alice Morissette; Gabrielle Lefebvre; Claude Bacque-Dion (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Preventive Medicine
Teenagers' vaccination has become crucial to limit the COVID-19 transmission in the population. To increase the vaccination rate of this age group, a school-based vaccination campaign was launched in Québec, Canada from June 7 to 18, 2021. This study aimed to analyze trajectories of vaccination coverage over time among students attending 37 high schools. The study explored whether school-based vaccination campaigns contributed to the progression of the vaccination coverage and attenuated disparities in vaccination coverage across schools.
Family responsibilities and mental health of kindergarten educators during the first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Ontario, Canada.

Natalie Spadafora; Caroline Reid-Westoby; Molly Pottruff (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Teaching and Teacher Education
The present study, conducted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, Canada, addressed the association between family responsibilities and mental health (depression and anxiety) among kindergarten educators. Participants comprised 1790 (97.9% female) kindergarten educators (73.6% kindergarten teachers; 26.4% early childhood educators) across Ontario.
A cohort study examining the association between children's symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity, internalizing symptoms, and mindful parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hannah O’Reilly; Maria Rogers; Julia Ogg (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Paediatrics & Child Health
Increased mental health difficulties have been reported in Canadian children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and emerging research suggests that children with high levels of symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity have been disproportionately impacted. Accordingly, the pandemic has impacted families as well. The purpose of this study was the following: (1) to examine whether children’s symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity at the beginning of the 2020 and 2021 academic year were associated with mindful parenting at the end of the academic year and (2) to examine whether children’s depressive and anxiety symptoms at the end of the year moderated this relationship.
Cite this research | Open access | Vol.: 27 | Issue: Supplement 1 | No. of pages: 47-52 | Language: English | Topics: Mental Health | Tags: child mental health, COVID-19 response, lockdown, mental health services, mental stress, psychological distress, social distance | Countries: Canada
Early adolescents' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in their well-being

Anne Gadermann; Kimberly Thomson; Randip Gill (et al.)

Published: May 2022   Journal: Frontiers in Public Health

Early adolescence is a time of psychological and social change that can coincide with declines in mental health and well-being. This study investigated the psychological and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of students who responded to a survey in Grades 7 and 8 (ages 12–14) in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The objectives of this study were (i) to provide an overview on early adolescents' experiences and social-emotional well-being during the pandemic; and (ii) to examine whether changes in social experiences as well as feeling safe from getting COVID-19 at school were associated with changes in well-being outcomes over the course of a year. A sample of n = 1,755 students from a large public school district self-reported on their life satisfaction, optimism, and symptoms of sadness across two time points: First, in their Grade 7 year (pre-pandemic; January to March, 2020) and then 1 year later in their Grade 8 year (during the pandemic; January to March, 2021). In Grade 8, students also reported on pandemic-specific experiences, including changes in mental health, social relationships, and activities, as well as coping strategies and positive changes since the pandemic. Data were collected online using the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), a population-based self-report tool that assesses children's social-emotional development and well-being in the context of their home, school, and neighborhood. Multivariable linear regression analyses were used to examine associations between pandemic-related changes in relationships and perceived safety from getting COVID-19 at school with changes in well-being outcomes.

The protective role of internal/external factors on Covid-19 related stressors among resource parents

Sarah Zak; Elena Gallitto; Elisa Romano

Published: May 2022   Journal: Developmental Child Welfare
The Covid-19 pandemic has had detrimental effects on almost everyone worldwide, but one particularly vulnerable group are resource parents (foster and kinship) and the young people in out-of-home care. Resource parents have experienced the same increases in pandemic-related stressors as other parents but have the added challenge of caring for a young person involved with child welfare. There are, however, various possible protective factors that have been found to positively influence families during times of stress.
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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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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.