Emotional and behavioural impact of COVID19 related stressors in children and adolescents: The EmCoVID19 longitudinal study

Principal Investigators

This project is part of the macroproject EmCoVID19 - Unitats clíniques

Our rationale

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting multiple stressors that may impact the mental health of children and adolescents.

  • Evaluating the percentage of under-eighteens at risk for developing mental health problems (evaluated by assessing emotional and behavioral problems) and identifying associated risk factors is crucial to understanding this impact.

  • The Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC) scale, developed by the Massachusetts General Hospital, may be used in an online research to assess emotional and behavioral problems, and the risk of developing a mental health problem, in children and adolescents during the COVID-19 crisis.

What are our main questions?

  • What is the percentage of children aged 4 to 18 years presenting significant emotional and behavioral problems according to the PSC scale during the lockdown to control COVID-19 spread? Has this percentage changed compared with last year's data?

  • Will this percentage change in the next nine months of follow-up after the first reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic (declared in March 2020)?

Project design

This project is an observational, prospective and longitudinal study. Retrospective information is additionally collected regarding information from last year.

Responses that will be rated on the PSC scale and other relevant information will be collected from parents and through an online research survey. The PSC scale is used as a screening instrument to assess emotional and behavioral problems and identify whether under-eighteens are at risk of developing a mental health problem. It should be noted that individuals identified as being at risk do not necessarily have and will not necessarily develop a mental health problem.

The study will be carried out during lockdown (it was started in May 2020) and will include a monthly evaluation up to December 2020.

Scientific objectives

  1. To describe the percentage of children and adolescents with significant emotional and behavioral problems in a Catalonian and Spanish sample and based on an online administration of the PSC scale.
  2. To evaluate differences in this percentage according to clinical subgroups based on age, sex, socioeconomic status and mental health history.
  3. To evaluate associations between PSC scores and selected variables such as stressful life events, coping style of under-eighteens, stress and depression in caregivers, the under-eighteens's history of mental health illness.

Target population and data

The survey is addressed to children and adolescents (4 to 18 years old) living in Catalonia. Although respondents from other Spanish communities will not be excluded, the Catalan population will predominate in the sample owing to the recruitment strategy. The study required a minimum of 1,200 participants and has recruited a total of 1,529 valid surveys.

Information provided by the participants is reported in a safe and private setting. The signing of an informed consent by the parents or legal tutors is required to participate in the study, as is the consent of the minors if they are 12 years old or over.

Group members