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Psychosocial impact of Covid-19 outbreak on Italian asthmatic children and their mothers in a post lockdown scenario

Background: Italy was the first European country to fight the Covid-19 outbreak. To limit the transmission of the virus, the Italian Government imposed strict domestic quarantine policies and temporary closure of non-essential businesses and schools from March 10th,2020. Although more and more literature is exploring the impact of the pandemic on non-referred children and families, only a few studies are focused on the psychosocial impact of Covid-19 in chronically ill children and their caregivers. Methods: The present study investigates asthma control and children and mothers’ psychological functioning (i.e.: psychological well-being, fear of contagion, and mothers’ Covid-19 related fears) in 45 asthmatic children aged 7-to-14, compared to a control sample. The subjects were administered an online survey after the lockdown (from 28th May to 23rd August 2020). Results: The analysis shows that asthmatic children presented higher concern in relation to contagion, however, no difference in psychological functioning was displayed between the two cohorts. Mothers reported more Covid-19 related fears, and greater worries according to the resumption of their children’s activities. Moreover, they indicated a global worsening of their psychological well-being during the lockdown. Furthermore, regarding the clinical sample, the multivariate regression model showed that a worsening of mothers' psychological and children’s physical well-being was associated with a worsening of children’s psychological well-being during the lockdown. Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that mothers of asthmatic children can be more prone to experience psychological fatigue in a pandemic scenario. Special programs should be developed to support caregivers of chronically ill children.

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