PhD Scientific Days 2024

Budapest, 9-10 July 2024

Poster Session C - Mental Health Sciences 1.

Mental Distress of Parents with Chronic Diseases During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Australia


Kinga Bik-Multanowska1,2, Antonina Mikocka-Walus3, Julian Fernando3, Elizabeth Westrupp3,4,5
1: Uniklinik Köln
2: Universität zu Köln
3: Deakin University, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, School of Psychology, VIC, Australia
4: Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia
5: Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University, VIC, Australia

Text of the abstract

Mental Distress of Parents with Chronic Diseases During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Australia: A Prospective Cohort Study

Research on mental health outcomes, especially in parents with chronic diseases, during the pandemic has been limited and mostly cross-sectional with a lack of prospective designs. Understanding how such a crisis influences mental health outcomes for parents with chronic diseases is crucial in order to develop effective interventions targeted to their needs.

We aimed to 1) examine whether presence of a chronic disease predicts differential latent distress profile memberships, and 2) assess factors that could predict different distress profiles in the sub-group of parents with a chronic disease.

We used a sample of 1618 parents, from the longitudinal COVID-19 Pandemic Adjustment Study, who completed a measure of mental distress (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale) at 13 data collection points. Distress profiles were assessed with the latent profile analysis.

We identified four distinct mental distress profile memberships, with the most common membership characterised by very low (48.1%), followed by low (31.9%), moderate (15.7%), and high (4.3%) distress scores. A higher proportion of parents with chronic diseases belonged to profiles experiencing low (34.7% vs. 30.4%), moderate (18.7% vs. 14.1%), and high (5.5% vs. 3.7%) compared to very low (41.2% vs. 51.8%) distress levels than other parents. Residing in Victoria, younger age, lower levels of social support and appraisal of COVID as risk were associated with membership to higher compared to very low distress profiles.

Our findings highlight the importance of considering chronic disease co-morbidity as an additive risk factor in addressing mental health outcomes of parents during pandemic-like events, since parents with chronic conditions are more vulnerable to experiencing worse mental distress. Future interventions should focus on ways to strengthen social support and provide guidance for managing threat appraisal.

Funding: The participants were recruited as a part of a larger longitudinal cohort study: COVID-19 Pandemic Adjustment Survey (CPAS). CPAS was funded through the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, a Strategic Research Centre at Deakin University.