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Mental health outcomes among parents of children with a chronic disease during the COVID-19 pandemic : the role of parental burn-out

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Objective The COVID-19 pandemic and associated quarantine measures highly impacted parental psychological well-being. Parents of children with chronic diseases might be specifically vulnerable as they already face multiple challenges to provide adequate care for their child. The research questions of the current study were twofold: (a) to examine whether parents of children with a chronic disease experienced more anxiety and depression compared to parents of healthy children and (b) to examine a series of risk factors for worsened well-being (i.e., depression, anxiety, and sleep problems), such as sociodemographic variables, COVID-19-specific variables (i.e., financial worries, living space, and perceived quality of health care), and parental psychological experiences (i.e., parental burn-out and less positive parenting experiences). Methods Parents of children with a chronic disease (i.e., the clinical sample; N = 599 and 507 for Research Questions 1 and 2, respectively) and parents of healthy children (i.e., the reference sample: N = 417) filled out an online survey. Results Findings demonstrated that the parents in the clinical sample reported higher levels of anxiety than parents in the reference sample. Analyses within the clinical sample indicated that COVID-19-specific stressors and parental psychological experiences were associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Mediation analyses furthermore indicated that the association of COVID-19-specific stressors with all outcome measures was mediated by parental burn-out. Conclusions Parents of children with a chronic disease constitute a vulnerable group for worse well-being during the current pandemic. Findings suggest interventions directly targeting parental burn-out are warranted.
ISSN: 1465-735X
Issue: 4
Volume: 47
Pages: 420 - 431