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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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One school’s management of students with intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 outbreak in Japan: a study based on interviews with teachers

Yusuke Kusumi; Mitsuaki Tominaga; Hironobu Nagasawa (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: Journal of intellectual disabilities : JOID
This study aimed to elucidate how school employees caring for students with intellectual disabilities managed emergencies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It attended to decision-making by school managers as well as the engagement of local teachers in the outcome resolution process. A total of 10 teachers employed in different positions were purposefully selected from a school for students with intellectual disabilities in Osaka, Japan, and interviews were conducted with them via Zoom. The thematic analysis identified six significant premises: sensemaking, emergency responsive organization, high morale, planning through prioritization, risk management, and recovery from adverse incidents. The findings suggest distributed leadership functions to successfully sustain security in educational practices. Additionally, the empirical study consisting of interviews with staff in multiple positions reveals that all of the staff's proactive participation in decision-making and the communication process enabled the school to cope with the pandemic crisis as a united organization.
Did children in single-parent households have a higher probability of emotional instability during the COVID-19 pandemic? A nationwide cross-sectional study in Japan

Takuto Naito; Yasutake Tomata; Tatsui Otsuka (et al.)

Published: April 2022   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The influence of public health measures against COVID-19 in Japan on child mental health by household type is unknown. This study aimed to investigate whether COVID-19 and the declaration of a state of emergency in Japan affected children’s mental health between single-parent and two-parent households disproportionately. A large cross-sectional online survey was conducted from August to September 2020. The study included 3365 parents with children aged 0–14 years old who reported their children’s mental status during the declared state of emergency. Emotional instability was reported dichotomously by parents. As the primary result, the probability of emotional instability was higher in single-parent households compared with that in two-parent households after adjustments for potential covariates; the adjusted prevalence ratio (95% CI) was 1.26 (1.07–1.49).
Identifying vulnerable children’s stress levels and coping measures during COVID-19 pandemic in Japan: a mixed method study

Hajime Takeuchi; Sharanya Napier-Raman; Osamagbe Asemota (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: BMJ Paediatrics Open

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected vulnerable children and youth. In Japan, despite evidence that the paediatric age group holds a lower risk of infection than the older population, there was a nationwide closure of schools as an early public health measure. Acknowledging that school closures brought heightened psychological and physical stress among Japanese children, we aimed to explore vulnerable children’s experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, focusing on socially disadvantaged subset of the population. This study used an adapted version of the ‘Perceived Stress Scale for Children’, with additional free-text space, delivered online to children attending three non-profit organisations which provide support for this group of vulnerable persons and families experiencing social disadvantage. Simple descriptive analysis was undertaken on the quantitative data; we used thematic and content analysis for the qualitative data.

Quality of life of children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic: a 1-year follow-up study

Riyo Ueda; Takashi Okada; Yosuke Kita (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: Scientific Reports volume
This study aimed to reveal changes in the quality of life (QOL) of children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their parents, and the interaction between their QOL and parental mental state during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Eighty-nine school-aged children and parents participated in surveys in May 2020 (T1) and May 2021 (T2). The parents completed questionnaires that assessed their QOL, depression, parenting stress, and living conditions. Children’s temporary mood status was evaluated using the self-reported visual analog scale (VAS). Children’s QOL and VAS at T2 were higher than their QOL at T1. Parents’ QOL at T2 was lower than their QOL at T1. Severe parental depression at T1 had a synergistic effect on severe parenting stress and severe depressive state at T2. Additionally, children’s high QOL at T1 had a synergistic effect on low parenting stress and children’s high QOL at T2. Furthermore, children’s low VAS scores and parents’ low QOL at T2 were associated with deterioration of family economic status.
E-book-based learning activity during COVID-19: engagement behaviors and perceptions of Japanese junior-high school students

Hiroyuki Kuromiya; Rwitajit Majumdar; Gou Miyabe (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning
Recent spread of the COVID-19 forces governments around the world to temporarily close educational institutions. This paper evaluated learning engagement, level of satisfaction and anxiety of e-book based remote teaching strategy on an online learning platform. The research involves 358 students at an urban junior-high school in Japan. Learning logs were analyzed to measure student engagement, whereas survey responses indicated their perception regarding the remote learning experience. Log analysis revealed that the average completion rate over 267 learning materials was 67%.
The impact of COVID-19 on the psychological distress of youths in Japan: a latent growth curve analysis

Sho Fujihara; Takahiro Tabuchi

Published: March 2022   Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

This study expands on previous studies that have investigated the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on mental health in two ways. It first model the change in mental health, then examine the various factors that predict changes in psychological distress. Longitudinal surveys were conducted once each in 2015, 2017, and 2019 on mothers and their children born between April 2000 and March 2001 (n = 1854), and three times in 2020 (February, July, and December) on the children in Japan. A latent growth curve model with four time points from December 2019 to December 2020 was used to depict the changes in the psychological distress of youths and to examine the factor associated with the level and change in psychological distress.

The relationship between behavioral problems and screen time in children during COVID-19 school closures in Japan

Chika Ueno; Shuichi Yamamoto

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

Pediatricians report that patients’ physical and psychological complaints increase after long periods of school closures in Japan, such as summer vacations. It has been reported that the number of children who commit suicide is greatest in September in Japan (1); therefore, the Japanese government has alerted pediatricians and parents to pay attention to subtle changes in children when they are due to return to school. Hence, long school closures seem to affect children’s physical and psychological status. This was a cross-sectional study conducted in July 2020, which enrolled students from all four public elementary schools in Miyaki-Machi, a suburban town in Saga prefecture, Japan. Parents received a letter describing the study and a questionnaire to be returned to the school by July 30 after completion. Participants were offered no financial incentive.

Changes in sleep behavior, sleep problems, and psychological distress/health-related quality of life of young Japanese individuals before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kosuke Tanioka; Momoko Kayaba; Sayaka Tomishima (et al.)

Published: February 2022   Journal: Chronobiology International
Social restrictions during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have impacted sleep behavior and sleep problems, and their related daytime functioning in young adults. However, no studies have examined such changes in young individuals from countries with mild infection intensity and social restrictions. Therefore, this study focused on sleep behaviors and sleep issues in young people in Japan. This study was conducted before and after the pandemic (October 2019 and May 2020, respectively). In total, 2,222 (1,371 students and 851 workers) individuals participated and completed anonymous Web-based questionnaires concerning demographic characteristics, sleep behaviors, sleep problems using the Japanese version of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (JESS) and the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS-J), psychological distress using the Japanese version of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) evaluated with the Short Form-8 (SF-8).
The impact of gender differences, school adjustment, social interactions, and social activities on emotional and behavioral reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic among Japanese school children

Yuma Ishimoto; Takahiro Yamane; Yuki Matsumoto

Published: February 2022   Journal: SSM - Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has had negative psychological effects, such as increased depression, anxiety, and suicide, on children worldwide, including in Japan. To effectively mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic among Japanese children, it is necessary to increase understanding of the culturally specific psychological effects on Japanese children, including age and gender differences, as well as related risk and protective factors. However, no previous research has quantitatively evaluated changes in Japanese children's emotional functioning before and after the pandemic began. The present study examined changes in Japanese children's emotional functioning with pre- and mid-pandemic questionnaires, particularly focusing on age and gender differences. The present study also explored the effects of school adjustment, social interactions, and lifestyle activities on children's emotional and behavioral functioning during the pandemic.
Changes in Japanese junior high school students' sense of coherence before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study of children and mothers

Tomoko Omiya; Naoko Deguchi; Yumiko Sakata (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Frontiers in Psychiatry
This longitudinal study aimed to clarify the changes in the sense of coherence (SOC); that is, the ability to cope with stress successfully, of 166 Japanese junior high school students and their mothers before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, it analyzed changes in SOC at three time points for all students and divided them into two groups: Group 1 included students with SOC scores that increased or maintained before and after the onset of the pandemic and Group 2 included students with decreased SOC scores after the onset of the pandemic. Second, it conducted a comparative analysis between the two groups. Overall, results indicated that student's SOC scores increased. Additionally, interpersonal stress scores were lower after the onset of the pandemic than before. There were almost no differences in family relationships, financial conditions, or personality tendencies between the two groups.
COVID-19 school and kindergarten closure relates to children's social relationships: a longitudinal study in Japan

Hiromichi Hagihara; Nozomi Yamamoto; Xianwei Meng (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Scientific Reports
The COVID-19 pandemic has led children to experience school closures. Although increasing evidence suggests that such intense social quarantine influences children’s social relationships with others, longitudinal studies are limited. Using longitudinal data collected during (T1) and after (T2) intensive school closure and home confinement, this study investigated the impacts of social quarantine on children’s social relationships. Japanese parents of children aged 0–9 years (n = 425) completed an online questionnaire that examined children’s socio-emotional behavior and perceived proximity to parents or others.
Impacts of long-term COVID-19 school closures on Japanese school children

Chiaki Hayano; Shuichi Shimakawa; Miho Fukui (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Pediatrics International

This study investigated the impact of COVID-19 pandemic school closures on the mental health of school students with chronic diseases. Questionnaires were distributed from 4th-9th grade students diagnosed with chronic diseases at Osaka Medical College Hospital and their parents or caregivers. Questionnaires from 286 families were returned by mail after schools reopened. The students were divided into the “psychosomatic disorder” group (P, n = 42), “developmental disorder” group (D, n = 89), and “other disease” group (O, n = 155). Using students’ self-report on the Questionnaire for Triage and Assessment with 30 items (QTA30), this study assessed the proportion of students having a high risk of psychosomatic disorder in three groups. It investigated how the students requiring the support of somatic symptom (SS) felt about school during school closure. Further, using parents’ and caregivers’ answers, SS scores were calculated before and during school closure and after school reopening.

Home environment and social skills of Japanese preschool children pre- and post-COVID-19

Xiang Li; Dandan Jiao; Munenori Matsumoto (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Early Child Development and Care
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the daily life and social relationships of pre-school children globally. While many studies have examined the impact of the pandemic on children, few have compared the home environment and children’s social skills before and after the pandemic. To address this research gap, this study used data from the Japan Child Care Cohort study, which included questions on home environment answered by parents (1748 in 2019 and 1349 in 2020) of children aged 0–6 years using self-reported questionnaires and data on the social skills of children aged 1–6 years (1917 in 2019 and 1989 in 2020) that were evaluated by childcare professionals in childcare centres. Using the Chi-square test, home environments and social skills were compared.
Association between children’s engagement in community cultural activities and their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from A-CHILD study

Yui Yamaoka; Aya Isumi; Satomi Doi (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Social learning experiences developed through engagement in community cultural activities can affect a child’s development. Few studies have examined how children’s engagement in community activities is related to their mental health. This study aimed to examine associations between children’s participation in community cultural activities and their mental health. We targeted all sixth-grade children in all 69 primary schools in Adachi City, Tokyo, using the Adachi Child Health Impact of Living Difficulty (A-CHILD) study (n = 4391). Parents answered the validated Japanese version of the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to assess child mental health, the child’s engagement in community cultural activities. The community activity in which children most frequently participated was local festivals.
Cite this research | Open access | Vol.: 18 | Issue: 24 | No. of pages: 10 | Language: English | Topics: Mental Health | Tags: child development, child mental health, community participation, COVID-19 response, lockdown, social distance | Countries: Japan
Change in Japanese children’s 24-hour movement guidelines and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kim Hyunshik; Ma Jiameng; Lee Sunkyoung (et al.)

Published: November 2021   Journal: Scientific Reports
Specialized guidelines are required for the health behaviors of vulnerable populations such as children. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein major lifestyle changes have occurred, especially among young children. The present study aims to use longitudinal data to understand changes in the physical activity, screen time, sleep, and mental health of preschoolers in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to pre-pandemic period. Subjective and objective measures were used to assess the variables of interest longitudinally. It was found that physical activity, adherence to WHO-recommended screen time, and prosocial behaviors decreased significantly. On the other hand, sedentary time and hyperactivity increased. Our results are consistent with findings from other countries. The implications with respect to outdoor playtime, screen-time in the context of online learning during the pandemic, and the effects of parents’ mental health on preschool-aged children are discussed.
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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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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.