WEDNESDAY, July 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) — With everyday life turned upside down, efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are taking a toll on the well-being and health of American families, a new poll reveals.
More than 1,000 parents nationwide were surveyed in early June.
“Without question, COVID-19 had a sudden and profound effect on families nationwide,” said survey leader Dr. Stephen Patrick. He’s director of the Center for Child Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
Physical distance requirements, he noted, resulted in total upheaval, with “abrupt closures of schools, child care, community programs and workplaces. Parents lost jobs, child care, social networks. For kids, schools closed, they stopped going to pediatricians.”
In many households, access to basic needs like food and supplies has been hard to come by, too.
As a result, just over a quarter of parents said their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic, and about 14% said their kids’ behavioral health suffered.
Four percent said their kids’ physical health had suffered and nearly 1 in 5 said their own had also worsened.
The online survey found women, unmarried parents and young children appeared to be most vulnerable. But the health impacts were similar for all races and ethnic groups, income levels, educational backgrounds and locations.
The poll revealed that insurance coverage and medical routines have been compromised. About 3% of respondents said they had lost their employer-based health coverage since March. And close to 40% said scheduled medical appointments for their child had been canceled or delayed.
The pandemic has also brought a rise in “food insecurity,” the poll showed. Fewer than a third said access to adequate food was a problem in March, compared to 36% by early June.
“Put simply, there are millions of children who will go hungry tonight, and the pandemic has made that worse,” Patrick said.
Child care routines also took a hit. Almost a quarter of parents said their pre-pandemic child care arrangements had evaporated. And for families with children 5 years old or younger, nearly 39% experienced disruptions in child care.