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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 717
Increased behavioral health needs and continued psychosocial stress among children with medical complexity and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jonna von Schulz; Verena Serrano; Melissa Buchholz (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Infant Mental Health Journal

Children with medical complexity (CMC) and their caregivers are at increased risk for multiple psychosocial stressors that can impact child and family well-being and health outcomes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to supports diminished, psychosocial screening and integrated behavioral health (IBH) services in the primary care setting were crucial in identifying and addressing the unique needs of this population. Universal screening to identify psychosocial needs was implemented in a primary care clinic for CMC that includes IBH services. Data on the prevalence of psychosocial screening and IBH services for young children and their caregivers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic were evaluated.

Adolescent loneliness, stress and depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic: the protective role of friends

Guadalupe Espinoza; Hannah L. Hernandez

Published: January 2022   Journal: Infant and Child Development
The current study examines if perceived negative changes due to COVID-19 are related to adolescent loneliness, stress and depressive symptoms and whether friendship factors (online friend communication, friend support) serve a protective role in these associations. In total, 993 adolescents (Mage = 16.09, SD = 1.24) from ethnically diverse backgrounds (49% White, 18% Asian/Asian-American, 14% Latinx, 9% Black/African-American, 10% Other) in the United States completed an online survey. Adolescents who perceived more negative changes due to COVID-19 reported more loneliness, stress and depressive symptoms. For loneliness and stress, these associations were qualified by interactions with the friendship factors. Among adolescents with low online friend communication, as perceived negative changes increased, loneliness also increased. At high levels of friend communication, there was no link between negative COVID-19 changes and loneliness. Friend communication and support may protect adolescents from well-being problems stemming from the negative changes in their life due to COVID-19.
Association between mask wearing and anxiety symptoms during the outbreak of COVID 19: a large survey among 386,432 junior and senior high school students in China

Qingqing Xu; Zhenxing Mao; Dandan Wei (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Journal of Psychosomatic Research

This study aims to evaluate the association between mask wearing practice and the risk of anxiety symptoms during the COVID-19 epidemic among Chinese students aged 12–18 years old. Totally, 386,432 junior and senior high school students were recruited using a cluster sampling method across three cities of Henan Province in China during February 4–12, 2020. Mask wearing practice was defined according to its type and the behavior exhibited in relation to wearing a mask. Presence of anxiety symptoms was determined by Generalized Anxiety Disorder tool (GAD-7). Multiple logistic regression was performed to estimate the association between mask wearing and anxiety symptoms.

Associations between adolescents’ prosocial experiences and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lauren M. Alvis; Robyn D. Douglas; Natalie J. Shook (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Current Psychology
Natural disasters and times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are extremely stressful events, with severe mental health consequences. However, such events also provide opportunities for prosocial support between citizens, which may be related to mental health symptoms and interpersonal needs. This study examined adolescents’ prosocial experiences as both actors and recipients during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and assessed whether these experiences were associated with indicators of mental health. Adolescents (N = 426; 78% female) aged 13 to 20 years (Mage = 16.43, SD = 1.10; 63.6% White, 12.9% Hispanic/Latinx, 8.5% Asian, 4.2% Black, 2.8% Native American) were recruited across the US in early April of 2020. Participants reported on their COVID-19 prosocial experiences (helping others, receiving help) and mental health (depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, burdensomeness, belongingness). Multiple regression models indicated greater engagement in COVID-19 prosocial behavior was associated with greater anxiety symptoms and greater burdensomeness.
Psychosocial impact of 8 weeks COVID-19 quarantine on Italian parents and their children

Bassem J. Khoory; Maya W. Keuning; Anne C. Fledderus (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Maternal and Child Health Journal

Italy was affected greatly by Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), emerging mainly in the Italian province of Lombardy. This outbreak led to profound governmental interventions along with a strict quarantine. This quarantine may have psychosocial impact on children and parents in particular. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of 8 weeks COVID-19 quarantine on psychosocial functioning of Italian parents and their children. In this cross-sectional survey, we included parents and children resided in Italy during the 8 weeks COVID-19 quarantine. We evaluated social and emotional functioning, clinical symptoms possibly related to emotional distress, and change in perspectives using a questionnaire.

Crisis response and suicidal patterns in U.S. youth before and during COVID-19: a latent class analysis

Jennifer D. Runkle; Shrikanth Yadav; Kurt Michael (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Journal of Adolescent Health

This study characterized the unobserved patterns in crisis response among youth in the U.S. from March to December 2020 and determined the characteristics of vulnerable subgroups who were at increased risk for suicide due to the pandemic. A latent class analysis of crisis support-seeking from a national text-based crisis platform, (n = 179,497, aged 24 years or younger) for 11 crisis concerns (e.g., depression, anxiety/stress, suicidal thoughts, isolation, abuse, bereavement, relationships) was performed on three study periods: (1) January 2017 to December 2020, (2) prepandemic: 1 January 2017 to 12 March 2020, and (3) pandemic: 13 March to 20 December 2020. Demographic characteristics (age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity) were used as predictors for class membership using the three-step method.

Heterogeneity in maternal and child mental health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

Sumayya Saleem; Samantha Burns; Olesya Falenchuk (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Early Childhood Research Quarterly
This study used latent profile analysis on a longitudinal dataset to examine changes in maternal and child mental health during COVID-19 and factors that may protect against declines in mental health. Participants were 183 low-income mothers (M = 36 years) with young children (M = 5.31 years) in the City of Toronto with data collected prior to and during the pandemic in 2020. Mothers reported on their own stress, anxiety and depression and their children's emotional, conduct, hyperactivity, peer, and prosocial problems at both timepoints.
Longitudinal trajectories of depression and anxiety among adolescents during COVID-19 lockdown in China

Dongfang Wang; Jingbo Zhao; Brendan Ross (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

This study examines the patterns and predictors of depression and anxiety trajectories among adolescents during COVID-19 lockdown in China. A total of 35,516 college students were followed from the pandemic outbreak period, initial remission period, and control period. Participants completed the Patient Heath Questionnaire, Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, Perceived Social Support Scale, the Simplified Coping Style Questionnaire, and APGAR-family scale. Distinct patterns of depression and anxiety trajectories were established through grouping participants based on time-varying changes of the cut-off score. Multivariate logistic regressions were used to examine predictors for trajectory membership.

In their own words: child and adolescent perceptions of caregiver stress during early COVID-19

Yuan He; Robin Ortiz; Rachel Kishton (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated multiple stressors for caregivers of children in the United States, raising concern for increased family conflict, harsh parenting, and child maltreatment. Little is known regarding children's perceptions and experiences of caregiver stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to examine how children and adolescents identify and experience caregiver stress during the early COVID-19 pandemic. It analyzed 105 de-identified helpline text and online chat transcripts from children under age 18 who submitted inquiries to the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline from March to June of 2020, with COVID-19 as a presenting issue. Inductive, thematic analysis was used to identify how child helpline users: 1) perceived and experienced drivers of caregiver stress and 2) used words to describe manifestations of caregiver stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mother and child hair cortisol during the COVID-19 pandemic: Associations among physiological stress, pandemic-related behaviors, and child emotional-behavioral health

Nicole B. Perry; Bonny Donzella; Michael F. Troy (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Psychoneuroendocrinology
The current study assessed the associations between pandemic-related stressors and physiological stress, as indexed by hair cortisol concentration (HCC), for mothers and their children (N = 180) aged 5–14-years old (M = 8.91). The associations between maternal HCC and children’s HCC and children’s behavioral adjustment were also examined. Mothers reported on COVID-19-related behaviors and children’s adjustment, and both mother and child participants collected and mailed hair samples between August and November of 2020.
Resilience of adolescents and teenagers with self-limited and genetic-generalized epilepsy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Stephanie Kwok; Jennifer Engle; Anita N. Datta

Published: January 2022   Journal: Epilepsy & Behavior Reports

The study-objective was to determine the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children with self-limited and genetic-generalized epilepsy. Patients completed the Children’s Depression Inventory-2 (CDI-2) and Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children 2nd Edition (MASC-2) questionnaires before and during the pandemic. Via tele-visits, a pandemic-lifestyle survey and Obsession with COVID-19 Scale (OCS) was administered. Fifty subjects with a mean (SD) age of 14.44 (2.97) years and 4.85 (2.97) years of epilepsy were included. Overall, mood (62%), anxiety (61%), sleep (68%) and seizure frequency (88%) were unchanged/improved during the pandemic. There was no significant difference in pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19 CDI-2 and MASC-2 total T-scores. In 24% with a worsening CDI-2 total T-score, associations included higher total OCS score (p = 0.001), poor sleep (p = 0.013) and pre-existing psychiatric history (p = 0.0450). In 28% with a worsening MASC-2 total T-score, associations included less exercise during the pandemic (p = 0.028) and lower maternal education history (p = 0.022). On OCS, 6% were in the dysfunctional range.

Moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity among adolescents in the USA during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jason M. Nagata; Catherine A. Cortez; Erin E. Dooley (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Preventive Medicine Reports
This study aimed to evaluate adolescents’ moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) during the COVID-19 pandemic with regards to sociodemographic characteristics and determine mental health and resiliency factors associated with MVPA among a diverse national sample of adolescents ages 10–14 years. Data were collected during the pandemic in May 2020 from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD, N = 5,153), a national prospective cohort study in the U.S. MVPA was quantified as the product of reported duration and frequency (hours per week), which was further summarized as the proportion meeting age-appropriate 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. A similar estimate was generated using MVPA data collected prior to the pandemic. Mental health and resiliency measures were collected during the pandemic. Regression models examined associations between mental health or resiliency measures and MVPA during the pandemic.
Coronavirus stress and adolescents’ internalizing problems: exploring the effect of optimism and pessimism

Faramarz Asanjarani; Gokmen Arslan; Humoud F. Alqashan (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies
Coronavirus and its stress can have a significant impact on an individual’s psychological and physical well-being. Studies show that children and adolescents are among the most vulnerable groups as they lack adaptive coping strategies. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the mediating effect of optimism and pessimism on the association between coronavirus stress and youth internalizing problems among Iranian adolescents. The sample of this study included 408 students (42.4% female) recruited through cluster sampling. Participants were administered Corona Stress Measure (CSM), Optimism-Pessimism Measure (OPM), and Youth Internalizing Behavior Screener (YIBS).
Sleep across childhood during the COVID-19 pandemic: a narrative review of the literature and clinical case examples

Melanie A. Stearns; Carolyn E. Ievers-Landis; Christina S. McCrae (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Children's Health Care
Without the structure and schedule of traditional activities such as in-person school and socialization, evidence is emerging of pediatric sleep changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. A narrative review was conducted of the sleep literature during the pandemic for preschoolers, school-aged children, and adolescents. Changes in sleep and risk and protective factors for sleep heath during the COVID-19 pandemic are reviewed along with real-life clinical case examples for each developmental period. Given the high rates of pediatric sleep disturbance, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers should refine screening strategies and facilitate referrals for behavioral interventions to support sleep health during pandemics and other natural disasters.
Impact of COVID-19 on youth with ADHD: predictors and moderators of response to pandemic restrictions on daily life

Eliana Rosenthal; Sara Franklin-Gillette; Hi Jae Jung (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Journal of attention disorders
This study examined COVID-19 symptoms and infection rates, disruptions to functioning, and moderators of pandemic response for 620 youth with ADHD and 614 individually matched controls (70% male; Mage = 12.4) participating in the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development study. There were no group differences in COVID-19 infection rate; however, youth with ADHD were more likely to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms (d = 0.25), greater sleep problems (d = -0.52), fear and negative emotions to infection risk (d = -0.56), trouble with remote learning (d = -0.54), rule-breaking behavior related to COVID-19 restrictions (d = -0.23), family conflict (d = -0.13), and were less prepared for the next school year (d = 0.38). Youth with ADHD were less responsive to protective environmental variables (e.g., parental monitoring, school engagement) during the pandemic and may need more specialized support with return to in-person schooling and daily activities.
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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.