Toronto Metropolitan University
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Subjective well-being of Canadian children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of the social and physical environment and healthy movement behaviours

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-03, 18:38 authored by Raktim MitraRaktim Mitra, E. Owen D. Waygood, Josh Fullan

The current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily behaviours of children and youth. Yet, little is known about how they are mentally coping with the pandemic-time changes to their lives. This study explores children and youths’ self-reported subjective well-being (SWB) during the pandemic, and provides novel insights into the correlates of potential decrease, using data from a pan-Canadian online survey of 932 children/youth and their parents. SWB was measured based on perceived changes in 12 affective/emotional states. The results indicate that in spring 2020, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, many children and youth were more bored (37.6%) and worried (31%) compared to pre-pandemic time. At the same time, many self-reported that they felt calmer (31.9%) and more rested (30%). A latent class analysis revealed that nearly half (49.4%) of surveyed children and youth reported patterns in changes in their emotional state that may contribute to lower SWB. Results from binomial logistic regression suggest that socio-demographic characteristics and size of the municipality were not associated with low pandemic-time SWB. Instead, other potentially modifiable factors such as having access to friends, indoor and outdoor spaces/places to play and exercise, and healthy movement behaviours during the pandemic, were correlated with a lower likelihood of reporting low SWB. The findings can inform pandemic-time public health policy relating to physical distancing, and in the longer term, mental and physical health promotion. The results will also help improve urban planning and design practices in creating healthier, more resilient and equitable communities.




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