Evaluating the daily life of child and adolescent psychiatric outpatients during temporary school closure over COVID-19 pandemic: A single-center case-control study in Japan

Glob Health Med. 2022 Jun 30;4(3):159-165. doi: 10.35772/ghm.2022.01001.

Abstract

This study evaluated the clinical characteristics of mental health of child and adolescent psychiatric patients during temporary school closure throughout the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Japan using the Questionnaire - Children with Difficulties (QCD) and other useful psychological rating scales. The participants were those who visited the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Kohnodai Hospital. From those 1,463 participants, case and control groups were selected: 92 patients who visited the hospital during the temporary school closure from March 2020 to May 2020 (case group) and randomly sampled sex- and age-matched 92 patients during the pre-COVID period from April 2017 to March 2020 (control group). QCD is a parent-assessed questionnaire designed to evaluate the difficulties of children along the course of a day, right from waking up in the morning to retiring to bed at night. Lower scores indicate stronger difficulties. QCD scores were compared between the two groups in each of the following age groups: elementary school (6-12 years of age) and junior high school (12-15 years of age). In elementary school students, scores "during school" of QCD indicating functioning or disabilities during school hours were 3.31 ± 2.52 and 4.52 ± 2.33 in case group and control group, respectively (p < 0.05). In junior high school students, scores "Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Rating Scale (ADHD-RS)" indicating ADHD symptoms were 16.78 ± 12.69 and 11.80 ± 10.40 in case group and control group, respectively (p < 0.05). The findings suggest that the closure of schools due to the pandemic might worsen difficulties among elementary school patients, and hyperactivity and impulsivity might increase among junior high school patients. The long-term impact of stress caused by school closure on child and adolescent psychiatric patients needs to be investigated in the future.

Keywords: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Rating Scale (ADHD-RS); Questionnaire - Children with Difficulties (QCD); clinical characteristics; during school; hyperactivity and impulsivity.