Anxiety, depression and PTSD among children and their parent during 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in China

Curr Psychol. 2022;41(8):5723-5730. doi: 10.1007/s12144-020-01191-4. Epub 2020 Nov 14.


Home quarantine may lead to families developing a variety of psychological distress. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychological status of children and their parent during 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in China. Data were collected from children (n = 1360) and their parent (n = 1360) in China using online survey during February 2020. Demographic information, media exposure, and psychological status including anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were assessed using self-report measures. The results indicated that, for children, 1.84% experienced moderate anxiety, 2.22% experienced depression and 3.16% met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD; for parent, 1.18%, 0.01% and 3.60% experienced moderate anxiety, severe depression, and moderate depression, respectively, and 3.53% met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Moreover, excessive media exposure (β = -0.08 ~ 0.13, ps < 0.05) was a risk factor for anxiety and PTSD for children, a positive factor against anxiety and depression for parent. Being a mother (β = 0.07 ~ 0.21, ps < 0.01), being younger (β = -0.09 ~ -0.07, ps < 0.05), lower levels of educational attainment (β = -0.17 ~ -0.08, ps < 0.01) and family monthly income (β = -0.17 ~ -0.11, ps < 0.05) were risk factors for anxiety, depression and PTSD for parent. Findings suggested that children and their parent in non-severe area didn't suffer major psychological distress during the outbreak. Factors associated with lower levels of mental health problems were identified to inform the use of psychological interventions to improve the mental health of vulnerable groups during the pandemic.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Families in China; Home quarantine; PTSD.