This article was originally published here
Transl Behav Med. February 22, 2022: ibab166. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibab166. Online ahead of print.
Describe how social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic impacted children’s access to health care and children’s health behaviors in 2020. We used mixed methods to conduct surveys and interviews in-depth with English- and Spanish-speaking parents of young five-year-olds. geographic regions in the United States. Participants completed the COVID-19 Exposure and Family Impact Survey (CEFIS). Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted between August and October 2020. Of the 72 parents interviewed, 45.8% of participants were Hispanic, 20.8% Black (non-Hispanic), and 19.4% White (non-Hispanic). On the CEFIS, the mean (SD) number of social/family disruptions reported was 10.5 (3.8) out of 25. Qualitative analysis revealed multiple levels of themes that influenced access to health care during the pandemic, including two broad contextual themes: (a) unreliability of medical system/governmental organizations, and (b) uncertainty due to lack of consistency between multiple sources of information. This context influenced two themes that shaped the social and emotional environments in which participants accessed health care: (a) fear and anxiety and (b) social isolation. However, the pandemic has also had positive effects on families: more than 80% indicated that the pandemic had “a lot” or “a little” improved the care of their new infants. Social and family disruptions due to COVID-19 were common. These disruptions have contributed to social isolation and fear, and have negatively impacted many aspects of child and family health and access to health care. Some parents of infants reported improvements in specific health areas such as parenting, likely due to spending more time together.