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Journal Article


Hafstad GS, Sætren SS, Wentzel-Larsen T, Augusti EM. Lancet Reg. Health Eur. 2021; 5: e100093.


(Copyright © 2021, Elsevier Publishing)






BACKGROUND: Lockdown policies related to the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic has potential negative consequences for mental health in youths.

METHODS: Anxiety and depressive symptoms were assessed in 3 572 adolescents, age 13 to 16 using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-10), in a representative longitudinal survey of Norwegian youths between February 2019 (T1) and June 2020 (T2). Predictors for symptom change were analysed with linear mixed-effects models.

FINDINGS: Overall, clinical levels of anxiety and depression increased slightly from 5.5% at T1 to 6.3% at T2; Chi square 224.4 (df = 1), p<.001. However, the observed change was driven by the increase in age between assessments. Being a girl, having pre-existing mental health problems, and living in a single-parent household at T1, predicted higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms at T2 (p<.001). Living in a single-parent household was associated with a significant increase in symptoms, also when age was controlled for (p<.001). Living in a poor family however, or having a history of maltreatment, was associated with a significantly lower increase in symptoms (p<.001).

INTERPRETATION: Anxiety and depressive symptoms increased slightly in Norwegian youths between 2019 and 2020, but this change seemed to be driven by increase in age rather than pandemic-related measures. Symptom levels were unevenly distributed across demographic groups both before and during the pandemic outbreak, indicating that health disparities persist for adolescents in risk groups during a pandemic. Health inequities related to living conditions need to be addressed in future action plans, and intensified measures to mitigate inequities are needed. FUNDING: The study was funded by the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Adolescents and Family affairs (Bufdir).

Language: en


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