Parental stress and child mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics



Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 43 pages) : 1 illustration.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Elizabeth Vasquez

Committee Members

Melissa Tracy, David Nicholas


Child mental health, Stress (Psychology), Stress in children, Parent and child, COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-

Subject Categories



AbstractBackground: The COVID-19 pandemic led to changes in children's routines, including altered school routines, social isolation, and limited peer and play activities. Parental stress is a significant risk factor for child mental health issues including anxiety and stress. In addition, children’s mental health may be affected differently depending on the developmental age of the child. This study aimed to examine the relationship between parental stress and stress/anxiety of children during the pandemic while considering moderating role of a child's age. Methods: Data from the COACH-NY Study was used for this study. Primary caregivers living in New York state were recruited from January 2021 to May 2021 through social media and other personal and professional networks, resulting in a convenience sample of 641 households. The Perceived Stress Scale was used to assess the stress levels of primary caregivers. Stress/anxiety of children was examined using primary caregiver’s reports. Univariate analyses, bivariate analyses, and multivariable Poisson regression were used to assess the relationship between parental stress and child stress/anxiety while controlling for selected confounders. Results: In our study, sixty percent of the participants were female, 50% had some college or associate degree and 60% were between the age of 35 – 54. The prevalence of increased stress/anxiety since the pandemic began among children was 33% in our study. In the adjusted model, we found that among children with primary caregivers experiencing high perceived stress, the prevalence of increased stress/anxiety was 1.49 times [95% CI: 0.98 – 1.53] that of children with primary caregivers not experiencing high perceived stress. We also found that iv among older children, the prevalence of increased stress/anxiety comparing children with primary caregivers reporting high perceived stress to children with primary caregivers not reporting high perceived stress was significantly higher than among younger children [PR: 1.68; 95% CI: 1.20 – 2.37 vs. PR: 1.04; 95% CI: 0.77 – 1.38]. Discussion: Primary caregivers are facing increased stress since the pandemic began and this reflects upon the mental health of their children. Among older children, home confinement and lack of peer interaction may further increase the impact of primary caregiver stress on child stress/anxiety. Longitudinal studies are needed to examine the long-term consequences of the impact of the pandemic on both primary caregivers and children. In addition, primary caregivers and children should be provided with mental health support in the post-pandemic phase.


Requested ProQuest takedown; no end date

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