COVID-19 unmasked global collaboration protocol: Longitudinal cohort study examining mental health of young children and caregivers during the pandemic

Alexandra C. De Young*, Mira Vasileva, Joanna Boruszak-Kiziukiewicz, Dilara Demipence Seçinti, Hope Christie, Marthe R. Egberts, Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous, Meghan L. Marsac, Gemma Ruiz, COVID-19 Unmasked Global Collaboration

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Early empirical data shows that school-aged children, adolescents and adults are experiencing elevated levels of anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, there is very little research on mental health outcomes for young children. 

Objectives: To describe the formation of a global collaboration entitled, ‘COVID-19 Unmasked’. The collaborating researchers aim to (1) describe and compare the COVID-19 related experiences within and across countries; (2) examine mental health outcomes for young children (1 to 5 years) and caregivers over a 12-month period during the COVID-19 pandemic; (3) explore the trajectories/time course of psychological outcomes of the children and parents over this period and (4) identify the risk and protective factors for different mental health trajectories. Data will be combined from all participating countries into one large open access cross-cultural dataset to facilitate further international collaborations and joint publications. 

Methods: COVID-19 Unmasked is an online prospective longitudinal cohort study. An international steering committee was formed with the aim of starting a global collaboration. Currently, partnerships have been formed with 9 countries (Australia, Cyprus, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the United States of America). Research partners have started to start data collection with caregivers of young children aged 1–5 years old at baseline, 3-months, 6-months, and 12-months. Caregivers are invited to complete an online survey about COVID-19 related exposure and experiences, child’s wellbeing, their own mental health, and parenting. 

Data analysis: Primary study outcomes will be child mental health as assessed by scales from the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System–Early Childhood (PROMIS-EC) and caregiver mental health as assessed by the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21). The trajectories/time course of mental health difficulties and the impact of risk and protective factors will be analysed using hierarchical linear models, accounting for nested effects (e.g. country) and repeated measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1940760
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Early online date6 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • adult
  • covid-19 pandemic
  • global collaboration
  • infant
  • mental health
  • parenting
  • preschool
  • risk factors
  • well-being
  • young child


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