Health anxiety symptoms in Danish children during the first lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic: an Odense Child Cohort study

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  • Ditte Hulgaard, University of Southern Denmark, Mental Health Services in the Region of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Charlotte Ulrikka Rask
  • Henriette Boye, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Pia Veldt Larsen, Mental Health Services in the Region of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Henrik Thybo Christesen, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Marianne Skovsager Andersen, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Tina Kold Jensen, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Niels Bilenberg, University of Southern Denmark, Mental Health Services in the Region of Southern Denmark

Purpose: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has a severe impact on the general population. During the pandemic, children may develop emotional and psychological symptoms, including increased worries about health and illness, known as health anxiety symptoms (HASs). We aimed to explore HAS in 7–9-year-old children from the Danish Odense Child Cohort (OCC) during the first COVID-19 lockdown period in Denmark, and to examine associations with potential risk factors. Material and methods: OCC is a cohort of children born between 2010 and 2012, which originally recruited 2874 of 6707 pregnancies (43%). Among the current OCC population of 2430 singleton children, 994 participated in this study (response rate 40%). Children and their parents filled out questionnaires about child HAS, family exposure to COVID-19 infection and parental HAS. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) were calculated between high score child HAS (≥90th percentile) and covariates by use of logistic regression. Results: Most children (n = 686, 69%) reported few worries about their health. Children reporting high score HAS also had higher levels of internalizing symptoms at age 5; aOR 2.15 (1.20;3.85), p = .010, and higher levels of maternal and paternal HAS; aOR 2.40 (1.44;3.97), p = .001, and 2.00 (1.10;3.65), p = .023, whereas no association with child sex or familial exposure to COVID-19 was detected (n = 65, 6.5%). Conclusions: High score child HAS during the first lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic was not associated with family exposure to COVID-19 infection, but to being a more anxious child a priori and to HAS in parents.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Volume76
Issue5
Pages (from-to)330-337
Number of pages8
ISSN0803-9488
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Nordic Psychiatric Association.

    Research areas

  • child, coronavirus, COVID-19, family, health anxiety

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