Scientific article
Open access

Socioeconomic conditions and children's mental health and quality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic : An intersectional analysis

Published inSSM, population health, vol. 23, 101472
Publication date2023-09
First online date2023-07-23

Background: Children and adolescents are highly vulnerable to the impact of sustained stressors during developmentally sensitive times. We investigated how demographic characteristics intersect with socioeconomic dimensions to shape the social patterning of quality of life and mental health in children and adolescents, two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We used data from the prospective SEROCoV-KIDS cohort study of children and adolescents living in Geneva (Switzerland, 2022). We conducted an intersectional Multilevel Analysis of Individual Heterogeneity and Discriminatory Accuracy by nesting participants within 48 social strata defined by intersecting sex, age, immigrant background, parental education and financial hardship in Bayesian multilevel logistic models for poor health-related quality of life (HRQoL, measured with PedsQL) and mental health difficulties (measured with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire).

Results: Among participants aged 2-17 years, 240/2096 (11.5%, 95%CI 10.1-12.9) had poor HRQoL and 105/2135 (4.9%, 95%CI 4.0-5.9) had mental health difficulties. The predicted proportion of poor HRQoL ranged from 3.4% for 6-11 years old Swiss girls with highly educated parents and no financial hardship to 34.6% for 12-17 years old non-Swiss girls with highly educated parents and financial hardship. Intersectional strata involving adolescents and financial hardship showed substantially worse HRQoL than their counterparts. Between-stratum variations in the predicted frequency of mental health difficulties were limited (range 4.4%-6.5%).

Conclusions: We found considerable differences in adverse outcomes across social strata. Our results suggest that, post-pandemic, interventions to address social inequities in HRQoL should focus on specific intersectional strata involving adolescents and families experiencing financial hardship, while those aiming to improve mental health should target all children and adolescents.

  • Adolescents
  • Health equity
  • Socioeconomic disparities
  • Youth
Citation (ISO format)
LORTHE, Elsa Louise Adèle et al. Socioeconomic conditions and children’s mental health and quality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic : An intersectional analysis. In: SSM, population health, 2023, vol. 23, p. 101472. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2023.101472
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ISSN of the journal2352-8273

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