Factors Associated with Risk and Resilience in Peruvian Youth During COVID-19

Talia Benheim, BA

Massachusetts General Hospital – Research Assistant

Scientific Abstract

Background: Peru has been hit hard by COVID-19, with the largest per capita COVID-19 death rate in the world as of January 2022. In addition to the pandemic’s physical toll, pandemic-related stressors have likely impacted mental health in both adults and youth. The present study examined correlates of psychosocial functioning in Peruvian youth and adolescents during the community transmission phase that took place in the fall of 2020, when the nation was under partial lockdown measures.

Methods: A sample of 8,263 caregivers with children between the ages of 5.0-17.9 completed an opt-in online questionnaire between October 23rd–November 26th, 2020. The survey collected information on sociodemographic characteristics, pandemic-linked factors, and child and parent mental health. The Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC-17) measured psychosocial functioning in youth, while the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and Brief Resilience Scale (BRS-6) measured depression and resiliency, respectively, in adults. Adjusted prevalence ratios were used to model which variables exacerbated or mitigated the mental health impact of the pandemic.

Results: The prevalence of overall risk on the PSC was about 33.2%. While older children, females, those with unmarried caregivers, and those with a family member at heightened health risk for COVID-19 were significantly more likely to screen positive on the PSC, adjusted models showed that caregiver depression and resilience were the strongest predictors of child psychosocial problems. Caregiver depression was associated with over twice the likelihood of PSC risk, while caregiver resilience was associated with about half the likelihood of PSC risk.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that supporting caregiver mental health and resilience during the pandemic could help protect children from adverse psychosocial functioning in the face of pandemic-linked stressors. Youth mental health interventions should take a family-based approach.

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research Areas


July Caballero, MD, MSc, Daniel A. Antiporta, PhD, Yuri Cutipé, MD, Rocío Vargas-Machuca, BS, MSEpid(c), Carlos Rojas, BS, MS(c), Carla Cortez, MD, Johan M. Vega-Dienstmaier, MD, MSc, Talia S. Benheim, BA, Anamika Dutta, BA, Juliana M. Holcomb, BA, Felipe Peña, BA, Michael Jellinek, MD, J. Michael Murphy, EdD

Principal Investigator

J. Michael Murphy, EdD