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Systematic review

The effects of covid-19 on children and youth’s wellbeing: A rapid review

Published

Our commision was to map studies examining the effect of the covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on children and youth. Our research question was: what are the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of children and youth?

Forside konsekvens c19 barn og unges helse.jpg

Our commision was to map studies examining the effect of the covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on children and youth. Our research question was: what are the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of children and youth?


Key message

Our commision was to map studies examining the effect of the covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on children and youth. Our research question was: what are the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of children and youth?

We conducted a rapid review, that is, a systematic review conducted quicker and with simpler methods than usual. We neither assessed studies’ risk of bias nor analyzed extracted data. Our categorizations and conclusions are therefore preliminary. Our systematic literature search resulted in 3,623 references, 292 of which we assessed in full-text. We included 93 unique studies from OECD-countries, including eleven from Norway and Denmark. Most studies collected data in the first wave of lockdowns. We categorized the studies accoring to six  main themes: Family relationships (n=30), social health (n=20), mental health (n=47), use of health- and social services (n=3), learning and education outcomes (n=13), and nutrition, sleep, and physical activity (n=18).

Overall, the studies’ results pointed towards a reduction in registered cases of violence against children. Another overarching pattern was that most children appeared to experience improvements in some areas of life as well as deteriorations in other areas. However, a small minority – often comprised of already vulnerable children – experienced deterioriations in most areas.

Numerous studies looked at various types of vulnerable children, including victims of violence, those with learning or developmental disabilities, sexual minorities, racial/ethnic minorities, children in families particularly negatively affected by the pandemic (e.g. related to finances and employment, health, or relationships), and youth with mental health issues.

Downloadable as PDF. In Norwegian. English summary.

About this publication

  • Year: 2021
  • By: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Authors Nøkleby H, Berg RC, Muller AE, Ames HMR.
  • ISBN (digital): 978-82-8406-149-8