Shattered or Strengthened? The Impact of Extended Lockdown on Family Functioning and Quality of Relationships during the COVID-19 Pandemic

  •  Marciana Popescu    
  •  Dana Alonzo    


INTRODUCTION: While much research has focused on mental health and well-being during the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, significantly fewer studies have directly explored the connection between lockdown policies, family functioning, and effects on the mental health of parents in highly vulnerable communities in low-income countries where pre-pandemic conditions were already unstable. This study aims to address this gap and examines the quality and nature of relationships with spouses, children, and extended families in highly vulnerable communities during an extended lockdown period. METHODS: With the approval of the appropriate Institutional Review Board and after receiving verbal consent, following standard local procedures, 30 individuals participated in in-depth semi-structured telephone surveys that were conducted three months following the lifting of the lockdown restrictions to assess the impact of the extended quarantine periods on mental health, overall family functioning, and relationships with spouses/partners, children, and extended family. RESULTS: Findings indicate that mental health distress post-lockdown predicts changes in the nature and quality of relationships with spouses, children, and extended family and increased risks for family violence. CONCLUSION: Findings highlight the differential impact of global health crises on highly vulnerable communities facing complex issues with limited access to adequate care systems. By reframing large-scale pandemics as complex emergencies, our results can inform current policies and support interventions and preventive measures preparing families to better cope with similar emergencies.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.