Dyadic associations between COVID-19-related stress and mental well-being among parents and children in Hong Kong: An actor–partner interdependence model approach

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Abstract

The spread of COVID-19 and its subsequent social distancing policies have profoundly impacted the lives of parents and children. Prolonged exposure to parenting-related responsibilities and heightened levels of family conflict under stay-at-home orders coupled with reduced access to support systems and resources have rendered parents and children more prone to stress and mental health difficulties. Drawing on a transactional model of parent–child interactions, the present study applied an actor–partner interdependence model approach to examine the transactional relationship between COVID-19-related stress and mental well-being among parents and children. Data from 109 Chinese parent–child dyads in Hong Kong were included in the study. Parents and their 8- to 10-year-old children completed a questionnaire on COVID-19-related stress, parent–child relationships, and mental well-being. The results showed that 53.2% and 30.3% of the parents and children, respectively, showed poor mental well-being, indicating possible emotional problems. Both actor and partner effects of parent COVID-19-related stress were found. Parent COVID-19-related stress was indirectly related to lower levels of parent and child mental well-being, through the mediation of parent–child conflict. To facilitate psychological adjustment following the COVID-19 outbreak, effective family-based mental health and parenting interventions are needed to promote family cohesion and alleviate stress-induced psychological symptoms. Even in the time of social distancing, telepsychotherapy and other online non-psychotherapeutic interventions can serve as a valid alternative for parents and children who experience excessive distress. Implications for psychological services, family-friendly policies, and social protection measures are also discussed. Copyright © 2022 Family Process Institute.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Process
Early online date07 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 07 Feb 2022

Citation

Chan, R. C. H. (2022). Dyadic associations between COVID-19-related stress and mental well-being among parents and children in Hong Kong: An actor–partner interdependence model approach. Family Process. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/famp.12760

Keywords

  • Actor–partner interdependence model
  • COVID-19
  • Mental well-being
  • Parent–child relationships
  • Transactional model

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