Mothers’ and Children’s Mental Distress and Family Strain during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Prospective Cohort Study

Janelle Boram Lee, Kharah M. Ross, Henry Ntanda, Kirsten M. Fiest, Nicole Letourneau

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic had a widespread impact on families with dependent children. To better understand the impact of the pandemic on families’ health and relationships, we examined the association between mothers’ and children’s mental distress and family strain. Methods: Three waves of the COVID-19 Impact Survey were analyzed, collected from a subsample of mother–child pairs (n = 157) from the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) longitudinal cohort in Alberta, Canada. Latent class analyses were performed to determine patterns and group memberships in mothers’ and children’s mental distress and family strain. Multivariable logistic regression models were conducted to test associations between mothers’ and children’s mental distress and family strain trajectory classes. Results: Mothers with medium/high levels of mental distress were at increased odds of experiencing high family strain compared to those with low levels of distress (medium aOR = 3.90 [95% CI: 1.08–14.03]; high aOR = 4.57 [95% CI: 1.03–20.25]). The association between children’s mental distress and family strain was not significant (aOR = 1.75 [95% CI: 0.56–5.20]). Conclusion: Mothers’ mental distress, but not children’s, was associated with family strain during the pandemic. More distressed individuals experienced greater family strain over time, suggesting that this association may become a chronic problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1725
JournalChildren
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov. 2023

Keywords

  • APrON study
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • child mental distress
  • family strain
  • longitudinal study
  • maternal mental distress
  • survey

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