Relevance. It is widely recognized that COVID-19 disease is significant problem for public health. The COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the long-term health impacts are continually increasing and children health is particular concern. The duration of exposure, heterogeneity and plurality of biopsychosocial factors have to unpredictable consequences on the mental health of vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents.
Objective. Determination the significant factors affecting the mental health of schoolchildren during the pandemic in order to further develop the health-saving measures.
Methods. During implementation of quarantine measures due to COVID-19 pandemic, we studied the peculiarities of schoolchildren’s life and mental health in 2020-2021 (n=1393) from all regions of Ukraine. Q-RAPH, GPAQ, RCADS-P-25 questionnaires were used. Prior to the pandemic, MH survey of 500 schoolchildren was conducted using “Children’s Neuroses Questionnaire” method. Descriptive statistics, Student's coefficients, univariate and multivariate analysis of variance, followed by a posteriori estimation of mean differences according to the Bonferroni test, conjugation tables, logistic and linear regression models were used.
Results. Сonstant stay in an apartment during quarantine leads to an increase in the chances of anxiety-depressive disorders on average by 2.5 times. During the pandemic for the observation period, both duration and frequency of walks were significantly lower for the children with mental disorders. The likelihood of pathological increases in anxiety and depression in school age children without interactive learning is 1.8 times greater. Pairwise comparisons of adjusted means using the Bonferroni test demonstrated that the higher is the BMI - the shorter is the sleep (β=-1.9; p=0.004), the longer is the sedentary behavior duration (β=3.4; p=0.001) - the shorter is MVPA (β =-1,4; p=0,005). It was established that depressive disorders are 2.4 times more common among the children with chronic diseases than among the healthy children (χ2 =51.1; p<0.001). In the course of 3d linear modeling of normalized indicators we can see that a decrease in both light physical activity (LPA) and MVPA leads to deterioration in mental health indicators of the children.
Conclusions. Main factors of the negative impact on children's mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic are: permanent stay at home (OR=2.02; CI 1.39-2.93), frequency of walks less than 4 times a week and duration less than 220 minutes per week (OR=1.96; CI 1.12-3.45), non-interactive remote learning (OR=1.78; CI 1.17-2.69), overweight and obesity of schoolchildren (OR=1 .52; CI 1.11-2.08), presence of chronic diseases (OR=2.79; CI 1.99-3.91), anxiety disorders in parents (OR=3.67; CI 1.02-13,25) and their lack of higher education (OR=1,27; CI 1,03-1,56).
The obtained results must be taken into account when developing further preventive strategies and tactics for overcoming the pandemic consequences.
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