Predictors of Change in Children’s Internalising and Externalising Behaviour Before and During the Initial COVID-19 Lockdown in the UK and Turkey: A Cross-cultural Examination

Evren Morgul, Angeliki Kallitsoglou, Cecilia A. Essau

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. Culture can influence emotional and behavioural responses to the pandemic and its consequences, but research is primarily focused on single culture experiences. The study examined the impact of caregiver emotional responses to the pandemic and the lockdown on child mental health and wellbeing in two culturally different countries that were severely affected by the pandemic: UK and Turkey

Method: Participants were 1849 caregivers of children between 5- and 12-years old living in the UK (n= 995) and Turkey (n = 854), who completed a 20 -min electronic survey on child and family wellbeing distributed via social networks during the initial phase of the COVID-19 lockdown (July and August 2020).

Findings: Worry of COVID-19 infection was higher amongst caregivers in the Turkish sample and it independently predicted change in children’s internalising behaviour in the Turkish sample only even after controlling for caregiver and child mental health, and caregiver perceived risk of COVID-19 infection. Caregivers in the UK sample reported more difficulty with family coexistence during the stay-at-home orders. However, difficulty with coexistence independently predicted change in children’s externalising and internalising symptoms before and during the lockdown in both samples. The study revealed cross-cultural differences in the predictors of change in children’s internalising and externalising behaviour before and during the initial national COVID-19 lockdown.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2021

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