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One in Four Parents Nonadherent to COVID-19 Public Health Measures

Most common reasons included wanting to exercise personal freedom as a parent, wanting child’s life to feel normal

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) — About one-quarter of parents reported misrepresentation and/or nonadherence to at least one of seven COVID-19-related public health measures (PHMs), according to a research letter published online March 6 in JAMA Network Open.

Andrea Gurmankin Levy, Ph.D., from Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut, and colleagues examined the prevalence of misrepresentations of and nonadherence to COVID-19-related PHMs by parents regarding their children in a survey study involving 1,811 U.S. adults. Parents were asked whether they had ever engaged in seven types of misrepresentation and nonadherence behaviors regarding COVID-19 PHMs for their children. The analyses included 580 parents with children younger than 18 years living with them during the pandemic.

The researchers found that 25.9 percent of the participants reported misrepresentation and/or nonadherence in at least one of seven behaviors. The most common behaviors were not telling someone who was with their child that they thought or knew their child had COVD-19 and allowing their child to break quarantine rules (24.0 and 21.1 percent, respectively). Wanting to exercise personal freedom as a parent was the most common reason, with additional reasons including wanting their child’s life to feel normal and not being able to miss work or other responsibilities to stay home.

“Our findings suggest a serious public health challenge in the immediate context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including future waves affecting weary parents, as well as future infectious disease outbreaks,” the authors write. “Further work is needed to identify groups at highest risk of misrepresentation and nonadherence, to address parents’ concerns that were identified as reasons for these behaviors (e.g., desire for autonomy), and to implement better support mechanisms for parents (e.g., paid sick leave for family illness) during such crises so that misrepresentation and nonadherence feel less necessary.”

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