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California Adults With Increased Household Conflict During the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order Had Higher Likelihood of Poor Mental Health and Severe Impairment

January 25, 2023

Policy Brief

Authors: D. Imelda Padilla-Frausto, PhD, MPH, Nicole Pereira, Hilary M. Wright

Summary: With businesses, child care centers, and schools forced to close during the pandemic stay-at-home order, millions of Californians lost critical sources of income, child care, and education in 2020. This policy brief examines the association between economic hardship, household conflict, and mental health outcomes during the pandemic using the 2020 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), which included questions specific to COVID-19 collected at the height of the pandemic.

Findings: Data show there was a disproportionate increase in household conflict during the pandemic among adults who financial or child care difficulties related to the COVID-19 shutdown. Increases in household conflict during the pandemic raised the risk of poor mental health and severe life impairment among adults with serious or moderate psychological distress. This study underscores the need to reduce the additional risks of household conflict, psychological distress, and severe impairment associated with financial stress and child care difficulties due to the pandemic.

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