Objectives: This study investigated the psychosocial responses of children and their parents to pandemic disasters, specifically measuring traumatic stress responses in children and parents with varying disease-containment experiences.
Methods: A mixed-method approach using survey, focus groups, and interviews produced data from 398 parents. Adult respondents completed the University of California at Los Angeles Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index (PTSD-RI) Parent Version and the PTSD Check List Civilian Version (PCL-C).
Results: Disease-containment measures such as quarantine and isolation can be traumatizing to a significant portion of children and parents. Criteria for PTSD was met in 30% of isolated or quarantined children based on parental reports, and 25% of quarantined or isolated parents (based on self-reports).
Conclusions: These findings indicate that pandemic disasters and subsequent disease-containment responses may create a condition that families and children find traumatic. Because pandemic disasters are unique and do not include congregate sites for prolonged support and recovery, they require specific response strategies to ensure the behavioral health needs of children and families. Pandemic planning must address these needs and disease-containment measures.