COVID-19 study, recruitment underway to assess emotional impact on children and their families

For many of us, 2020 has been an unprecedented year filled with numerous challenges. Since March, the COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted our normal way of life. Many of us are working from home. We’re social distancing ourselves from each other, and wearing protective face masks wherever we go – both at work and in public - to protect ourselves and curb the spread of this virus.

The global pandemic has been especially difficult for children and their parents. Children are having to cope with closed schools, limited social gatherings, and cancelled extracurricular activities. And with the uncertainty of whether it is safe for schools to re-open this fall, many parents are adding the new role of “teacher” to their list of parental responsibilities. These circumstances have prompted researchers to ask: What emotional and social impact is the COVID-19 global pandemic having on children and their parents/caregivers?

In collaboration with Geri LoBiondo-Wood, PhD, RN, FAAN from the UTHealth Cizik School of Nursing, two nurses from Texas Children’s  -- Karla Abela, PhD, RN, CPN, CCRN-K, assistant director of clinical practice in the PICU and Darlene Acorda, PhD, APRN, CNE, CPNP, clinical specialist in the PICU – are conducting a research study that will highlight the specific anxiety and post-traumatic stress-related mental health needs of children and parents. The study will also investigate the associations between parental/caregiver and child mental health during a pandemic.

“Our understanding of the impact of a global pandemic on the mental health of children and their parents is very limited,” Abela said. “We hope that our findings from this study will lead to future studies aimed at understanding these concepts better, and eventually, leading to supportive interventions for the family unit.”

Researchers at the UTHealth Cizik School of Nursing are recruiting children ages 9 to 17 years old and their parents to take part in the research study. Participation in the study involves a short, online survey with separate questions for parents and children to answer. The online survey includes questions about demographics and an assessment of anxiety and stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We encourage Texas Children’s employees and their families to participate in this secure, anonymous online survey,” said Acorda. “We encourage you to also share this flyer with anyone who may be interested in participating in the COVID-19 parent-child study.”

Once the survey closes at the end of August, the research team will analyze the findings before submitting the results for publication.

How to participate in COVID-19 parent-child study

If you are a parent or caregiver and have a child between the ages of 9 and 17, and are interested in participating in this research study, click here to complete the survey. Participation involves a short online survey for both parents and children.

If you have any questions or would like more information about this COVID-19 parent-child study, please contact Karla Abela at or Darlene Acorda at