The Impact of Lockdown During the Covid19 Pandemic on Mental and Social Health of Children and Adolescents

The Covid19 pandemic had a negative impact on many industries as well as people’s personal life. While the Covid19 pandemic had a significant impact on society as a whole, it was especially devastating to children and adolescents. Because of their critical developmental stage, children and adolescents are vulnerable to a variety of environmental disruptions (Berk, 2020). Even while the infectious disease had less morbid and fatal consequences on children and adolescents, certain government regulations, such as physical restrictions, had a significant influence on the population’s mental and social health. The primary concern in the selected study by Luijten et al. (2021) is the influence of Covid19 lockdown on the population’s mental and social health. The subsequent sections of this paper aim to detail the author’s purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions.

Hypothesis or Purpose

In the Netherlands, the country where the study was domiciled, social and physical restrictions began on March 12, 2020, only a few weeks after the first Covid19 patient was disclosed on February 27, 2020. The restrictive policy on peoples’ mobility and freedom of interaction led to the closure of schools, childcare facilities, and sports and recreation facilities, with mental and social consequences for children and adolescents. In light of the consequences of the restrictive policy, Luijten et al. (2021) aim to investigate the mental and social health of children and adolescents during the Covid19 lockdown. The results of the study are expected to have an impact on future political decisions, as well as mental healthcare regulations and interventions.

Methodology

Luijten et al. (2021) conducted a descriptive study using a cross-sectional population-based design, comparing two representative samples before and during Covid19. The study was carried out in the Netherlands between December 2017 and July 2018, before Covid19 pandemic, and again between April 10th and May 5th, 2020, during the Covid19 period. The participants in the research were separated into two groups, one before the Covid19 and the other during the pandemic. Before Covid19, children and adolescents (n=2401) aged 8-18 years, the majority of whom were male (50.3%), completed a self-report questionnaire on physical, mental, and social aspects of health, and for whose parents acquired informed consent on their behalf. During Covid19, the participants were also children and adolescents (n=844) aged 8-18 years, with the majority being females (n=52.6%), who completed questionnaires comparable to the pre-Covid19 groups, with the inclusion of Covid19 specific items.

To achieve representativeness on important demographics, a two-step random stratified sampling method was used. The Covid-19 lockdown in both population groups was the independent variable in the study. In contrast, the dependent variables (outcomes) were the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) domains, which included global health, anxiety, peer relationships, depressive symptoms, anger, and sleep-related impairment. The PROMIS measurements provide T-scores to quantify each domain. To determine the validity and reliability, pre-Covid19 PROMIS scores were sampled and compared to those obtained during the Covid19 season, giving a baseline for comparison.

Results and Discussion

Luijten et al. (2021) find compelling, relevant, and deducible conclusions with respect to the study’s objective, which is to explore the influence of the Covid19 lockdown on the mental and social health of children and adolescents. In terms of sociodemographic data, the pre-Covid19 group consisted of 2401 individuals, with a mean age in years (SD) of 13.1 (3.1), and the majority of them were male (50.3%). The majority of the households (49.8%) had two children and two parents (84.7%), and the parents had an intermediate degree of education (48.2%). During the Covid-19 group, there were 844 people, with a mean age of 13.4 (2.8) and a female majority (52.6%). The majority of families had two children (46.6%) and two parents (82.0%), who had completed up to an intermediate level of education (51.8%), and regarding Covid19-specific questions, it was found that 23.7% had relatives or friends with Covid19 infection, 26.2% had a negative change in a work situation (parents), and 5.5% of the children/adolescents were attending daycare or school.

About the study’s objective, Luijten et al. (2021) discovered lower PROMIS T-scores across all domains during the Covid19 lockdown compared to the group before the lockdown. Many children expressed significant anxiety (during 16.7% versus before 8.6%) and severe sleep-related impairment (during 11.5% versus before 6.1%) during the lockdown. Compared to before the pandemic (4.6%), fewer children (1.7%) experienced poor Global Health during the Covid19. In terms of the social aspect of health, circa 90% of the children reported that the Covid19 lockdown had harmed their social life, citing missed contact with friends, freedom, not going to school and not participating in sports, not participating in pleasurable events such as birthdays, parties, and shopping, missing extended family gatherings, boredom, and difficulties with homeschooling.

Following a multivariable linear regression analysis on each PROMIS domain, Luijten et al. (2021) discovered that single-parent families, having three or more children in the family, parents experiencing a negative change in the work situation as a result of Covid19 regulations, and having a relative or friend infected with Covid19 were all significantly associated with poor mental and social health in children and adolescents. Luijten et al. (2021) accomplish the study’s goal by vividly demonstrating the mental and social effects of the Covid19 lockdown on children and adolescents. Furthermore, the research not only details the effect of the lockdown on mental and social health but also identifies predictors of poor mental and social health during the Covid-19 period.

While Luijten et al. (2021) accomplished the purpose of the study, it did have several drawbacks. First, self-reported answers may impact social desirability; however, this was mitigated by the PROMIS data collecting method, which was the same for the groups before and after Covid19. Second, despite the goal of obtaining two equivalent representative samples, age, family composition, and parental educational level showed substantial variances with a minor impact. Furthermore, the data collecting periods before Covid19 in 2018 (January and February) and during Covid19 in 2020 (April and May) were all winter. It is normal for people’s mental health to deteriorate throughout the winter, and the disparity between the two groups may have resulted in underestimating the true effect of the Covid19 lockdown.

Summary

The study’s purpose was to investigate the impact of Covid19 lockdown on the mental and social health of Dutch children and adolescents in the Netherlands. The cross-sectional two-representative design allowed for data collection in children and adolescents before the Covid19 era (2018) and later during the Covid19 period (2020), allowing for comparison. The study found that the Covid19 lockdown caused significant anxiety, severe Sleep-Related Impairment, and considerable disturbances in everyday living and social interactions. Furthermore, the research links single-parent homes, households with three or more children, having a family or friend infected with Covid19, and Covid19-related job interruption to worse mental and social health in children and adolescents. The article corroborates an essential subject, human development, which is extensively covered in the course materials. It is obvious that pandemics and their consequences, such as social isolation and physical constraints, have an impact on the development of children and adolescents. Taking the study’s results into account, they may be utilized to influence future political decisions and as a springboard for mental healthcare laws and regulations.

 

References

Berk, R. R. (2020). HDEV (Canadian Edition) (4th ed.). Cengage Learning Canada Inc. https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/9780176887735

Luijten, M. A. J., van Muilekom, M. M., Teela, L., Polderman, T. J. C., Terwee, C. B., Zijlmans, J., Klaufus, L., Popma, A., Oostrom, K. J., van Oers, H. A., & Haverman, L. (2021). The impact of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental and social health of children and adolescents. Quality of Life Research: An International Journal of Quality of Life Aspects of Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation30(10), 2795–2804. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-021-02861-x

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