Quality of Life and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents during the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany: Results of a Two-Wave Nationally Representative Study
26 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2021 Last revised: 17 Jun 2021
Date Written: March 5, 2021
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of children and adolescents worldwide. The German COPSY study is among the first population-based longitudinal studies to examine the mental health impact of the pandemic. The objective of the study was to assess changes in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and mental health in children and adolescents and to identify the associated risk and resource factors during the pandemic.
Methods: A nationwide longitudinal survey was conducted with two waves during the pandemic (May/June 2020 and December 2020/January 2021). In total, n = 1,923 children and adolescents aged 7 to 17 years and their parents participated (participation rate: 85 %). The self-report and parent-proxy surveys assessed HRQoL (KIDSCREEN-10), mental health problems (SDQ), anxiety (SCARED), depressive symptoms (PHQ-2) and psychosomatic complaints (HBSC-SCL). Mixed model panel regression analyses were conducted to examine longitudinal changes in mental health and to identify risk and resource factors.
Results: The HRQoL of children and adolescents decreased during the pandemic, and mental health problems, anxiety, depressive and psychosomatic symptoms increased over time. Socially disadvantaged children and children of mentally burdened parents were at particular risk of impaired mental health, while female gender and older age were associated with fewer mental health problems. A positive family climate and social support supported the mental health of children and adolescents during the pandemic.
Discussion: Health promotion, prevention and intervention strategies need to be implemented to support children and adolescents in coping with the pandemic and to protect and maintain their mental health.
Note: Funding Statement:The COPSY study was funded by the Kroschke Child Foundation. The funders had no influence on study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or the preparation of the manuscript.
Declaration of Interests: None of the authors has any conflicts of interest to disclose.
Ethics Approval Statement: The COPSY study was approved by the Local Psychological Ethics Committee (LPEK-0151) and by the Commissioner for Data Protection of the University of Hamburg.
Keywords: COVID-19, mental health, quality of life, anxiety, depression, children, adolescents
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