The covid-19 pandemic has influenced children and parents worldwide. The pandemic has also been suggested to especially affect and exacerbate health anxiety (HA) symptoms in children and adolescents. However, there is limited understanding of the potential mechanisms challenges of families where parents themselves experience mental health issues such as high degree of HA symptoms.


The aim of this study was to explore parental experiences of pandemic life in families with continuously high levels of HA symptoms during the covid-19 pandemic.


Six parents, identified with high levels of HA symptoms, participated in qualitative individual semi-structured interviews. Interviews were analysed according to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis principles.


Three main themes emerged. Theme 1) “Anxious children in a pandemic world” explores how pandemic – independent child factors including anxious temperament may have influenced the child pandemic experience. Theme 2) “Parental influences on child anxiety” describes parental reflections on their possible influence on child anxious thoughts. Theme 3) “Living with pandemic guidelines and restrictions” demonstrates the varying parental experiences of interventions and how these may affect HA thoughts.


Parents who themselves experience HA symptoms see their children, who also experience HA symptoms, to be particularly susceptible and vulnerable to both content and rhetoric of pandemic information. These children may however, experience school lockdown to be anxiety relieving. Parents who themselves have illness-related fears may not see themselves as perpetuating for their child's anxious thoughts.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Basic Medical Science, other