CHPR News

Results of UC Davis pilot studies on the impacts of COVID-19, sponsored by the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research (CHPR), the Center for Health and Technology (CHT) and the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), are starting to come in.

Professor Paul Hastings described some early findings from the survey he and colleague Camelia Hostinar undertook with their pilot funds in a UC Davis LIVE conversation hosted by Soterios Johnson on September 10th. Hastings and Hostinar both are professors in the UC Davis Psychology Department and faculty affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Mind & Brain. Their survey project is titled “Parenting during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Parent and Child Mental Health and Well-being.” 

Hastings told UC Davis LIVE listeners that more than half of the 500 parents who responded to the survey reported that “things were going well”—some 20% of them even describing things as “better” than before the pandemic. Hastings attributed involving kids in identifying safe, preferably physically active, things they could do near their friends and establishing limits for time spent on social media as being associated with better overall well-being.

But about a third of the families surveyed said they were struggling or could be doing better. Dr. Hastings suggested that lack of social support, from spouses or otherwise, and “profound” financial influences are likely factors contributing to the struggles of those families. He plans to look specifically at how these stresses affect women—whom he noted still bear the brunt of caring for children, by comparing results of this pilot survey with those from another survey he has been conducting.

In answer to “What can we do to be more resilient?” Dr. Hastings suggested that people focus on what they have some control over: self-care. Unplug from electronic devices, get enough exercise, take care of others (which studies have shown improves one’s own well-being) and avoid abusing substances. In following his own advice, he instituted “Sober September” in his own home.           

Drs. Hastings and Hostinar are conducting additional analyses of the long-term ramifications of pandemic-related stressors on the mental and physical health of parents and children. They also plan to longitudinally follow study participants in a subsequent, larger project to determine resilience factors that allow some parents and families to navigate the COVID-19 quarantine more effectively than others.