Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Quality of Life and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Forthcoming
23 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020 Last revised: 19 Jan 2021
Date Written: October 5, 2020
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented changes in the lives of 1.6 billion children and adolescents. First non-representative studies from China, India, Brazil, the US, Spain, Italy, and Germany pointed to a negative mental health impact. The current study is the first nationwide representative study to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and mental health of children and adolescents in Germany from the perspective of children themselves.
Methods: A representative online survey was conducted among n = 1,586 families with 7- to 17-year-old children and adolescents between May 26 and June 10. The survey included internationally established and validated instruments for measuring HRQoL (KIDSCREEN-10), mental health problems (SDQ), anxiety (SCARED), and depression (CES-DC). Results were compared with data from the nationwide, longitudinal, representative BELLA cohort study (n = 1,556) conducted in Germany before the pandemic.
Results: Two-thirds of the children and adolescents reported being highly burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. They experienced significantly lower HRQoL (40.2% vs. 15.3%), more mental health problems (17.8% vs. 9.9%) and higher anxiety levels (24.1% vs. 14.9%) than before the pandemic. Children with low socioeconomic status, migration background and limited living space were affected significantly more.
Discussion: Health promotion and prevention strategies need to be implemented to maintain children’s and adolescents’ mental health, improve their HRQoL, and mitigate the burden caused by COVID-19, particularly for children who are most at risk.
Keywords: COVID-19, mental health, quality of life, anxiety, depression, children and adolescents
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