Child, parent, and family mental health and functioning in Australia during COVID-19:comparison to pre-pandemic data

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic presents significant risks to population mental health. Despite evidence of detrimental effects for adults, there has been limited examination of the impact of COVID-19 on parents and children specifically. We aim to examine patterns of parent and child (0–18 years) mental health, parent substance use, couple conflict, parenting practices, and family functioning during COVID-19, compared to pre-pandemic data, and to identify families most at risk of poor outcomes according to pre-existing demographic and individual factors, and COVID-19 stressors. Participants were Australian mothers (81%) and fathers aged 18 years and over who were parents of a child 0–18 years (N = 2365). Parents completed an online self-report survey during ‘stage three’ COVID-19 restrictions in April 2020. Data were compared to pre-pandemic data from four Australian population-based cohorts. Compared to pre-pandemic estimates, during the pandemic period parents reported higher rates of parent depression, anxiety, and stress (Cohen’s d = 0.26–0.81, all p < 0.001), higher parenting irritability (d = 0.17–0.46, all p < 0.001), lower family positive expressiveness (d = − 0.18, p < 0.001), and higher alcohol consumption (22% vs 12% drinking four or more days per week, p < 0.001). In multivariable analyses, we consistently found that younger parent age, increased financial deprivation, pre-existing parent and child physical and mental health conditions, COVID-19 psychological and environmental stressors, and housing dissatisfaction were associated with worse parent and child functioning and more strained family relationships. Our data suggest wide-ranging, detrimental family impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic; and support policy actions to assist families with financial supports, leave entitlements, and social housing.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-021-01861-z
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Institute of Health & Neurodevelopment (AIHN)
Funding Information: EW, AM, and GK were supported by Deakin Faculty of Health Mid-Career Fellowships. DH was supported by a NHMRC Investigator Grant (1197488). ES was supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (1110688), a Medical Research Future Fund Investigator G
Additional Information: This pre-print is available under a CC-By Attribution 4.0 International licence Funding: EW, AM, and GK were supported by Deakin Faculty of Health Mid-Career Fellowships. DH was supported by a NHMRC Investigator Grant (1197488). ES was supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (1110688), a Medical Research Future Fund Investigator Grant (1194297) and a Veski Inspiring Women’s Fellowship. LO was supported by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (1158487).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Child mental health,Couple conflict,COVID-19 pandemic,Family functioning,Mental health,Parenting,Pandemics,Parents/psychology,Humans,Australia/epidemiology,Mental Health,Parenting/psychology,COVID-19/epidemiology,Adolescent,Adult,Female,Child,Psychiatry and Mental health,Developmental and Educational Psychology,Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
Publication ISSN: 1435-165X
Last Modified: 28 May 2024 16:23
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2021 08:47
Full Text Link: https://psyarxiv.com/ydrm9/
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
https://link.sp ... 787-021-01861-z (Publisher URL)
https://osf.io/78g5t/ (Related URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023-02
Published Online Date: 2021-08-21
Accepted Date: 2021-08-13
Authors: Westrupp, E. M.
Bennett, C.
Berkowitz, T.
Youssef, G. J.
Toumbourou, J. W.
Tucker, R.
Andrews, F. J.
Evans, S.
Teague, S. J.
Karantzas, G. C.
Melvin, G. M.
Olsson, C.
Macdonald, J. A.
Greenwood, C. J.
Mikocka-Walus, A.
Hutchinson, D.
Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M.
Stokes, M. A.
Olive, L.
Wood, A. G. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-1537-6858)
McGillivray, J. A.
Sciberras, E.

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