Understanding the perceived health outcomes of children during COVID-19 pandemic
The study explored the lockdown and quarantine on the perceived psychological distress and other life outcomes of children after the outbreak of COVID-19 in recent past. The study employed the Narrative Thematic Research Design and chose a heterogeneous sample of 20 full-time mothers to report the experiences of the restrictions of their children aged 9-11 years. These mothers were the primary source of data about the impacts of lockdown and quarantine on their children. A telephonic semi-structured interview protocol was used to collect data. Four themes were generated: poor social and emotional responsivity, decreased interest in studies and other creative activities, psychological distress symptoms and negative health outcomes. Anxiety, irritation, quarrelling behaviours, anger, frustration, low feeling, reduced interest in games, boredom etc. were observed in children. Sleep disturbances, complaints of indigestion and multiple complaints of body aches were major negative health outcomes. The findings showed a variety of negative psychological and health outcomes for children due to the extreme restrictions, uncertainty, apprehension, reduced positive engagement and lowered social connection after the outbreak of the pandemic. Preventive and protective measures are recommended with concerted efforts of parents, school and community to guard children against the ill-consequences of current and future pandemics.
Keywords: children; COVID-19; life outcomes; pandemic; perceived psychological distress, narrative thematic analysis.