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Mental health difficulties and related factors in Chinese children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study.

Jornal de Pediatria 2024 April 18
OBJECTIVE: To examine the mental health status and related factors in children and adolescents, and to assess age groups and sexes differences in factors influencing mental health.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study was performed on Chinese children aged 6-18 years from November 2021 to January 2022. Mental health difficulties were accessed by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Multivariate logistic regression was used to analyze factors associated with mental health status. Multiple linear regression was used to evaluate factors associated with the scores of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.

RESULTS: The prevalence of mental health difficulties was 12.98% (n =1348). Age (OR, 0.909, [95%CI, 0.830-0.996]), sex (OR, 1.424, [95%CI, 1.033-1.963]) and screen time on weekdays ("≥2" h/d vs "< 1" h/d: OR, 2.001, [95%CI, 1.300-3.080]) were related factors for mental health difficulties. For children (year ≤ 12), the strongest related factor for mental health difficulties was screen time on weekdays ("≥ 2" h/d vs "< 1" h/d: OR, 1.821 [95%CI, 1.203-2.755]). The risk of mental health difficulties in females with ≥ 2 h/d screen time on weekends was 3.420 times higher than those with < 1 h/d (OR, 3.420, [95%CI, 1.923-6.081]).

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of mental health difficulties among children and adolescents was relatively high. The lower age, female sex and excessive screen time were associated with a higher risk of mental health difficulties. The factors influencing mental health varied by different age groups and sexes. Thus, specific measures for different age groups and sexes should be adopted to mitigate the impact.

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