COVID-19 Experiences and Health-Related Implications: Results From a Mixed-Method Longitudinal Study of Urban Poor Adolescents in Shanghai

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Purpose: This analysis aimed to investigate gender differences in adolescents’ concerns and the health implications of COVID-19. Methods: We used two rounds of the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS) collected in Shanghai in 2018 and 2020. We analyzed data from 621 adolescents, comparing boys’ and girls’ concerns about COVID-19 and examining trends in general health and mental health by sex between the pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 periods. Changes in health indicators over time were assessed using generalized estimating equation (GEE) models. Results: Adolescent girls reported more health concerns (52.0% vs. 42.7%) and educational concerns (61.0% vs. 46.3%) than boys, whereas boys expressed more worries about the economic consequences of COVID-19 (32.9% vs. 25.4%). Changes in health-related outcomes during the pandemic compared to the prepandemic era differed by sex and varied by COVID-related experiences. Boys reported improved overall health (OR: 1.54, 95% CI: 1.00, 2.35) in the COVID-19 period relative to the pre-COVID-19 period. Such improvements were only observed among boys who reported no family economic hardships (OR: 2.10, 95% CI: 1.24, 3.58). We found no significant change for girls (OR: 1.14, 95% CI: 0.83, 1.55), regardless of COVID-19 economic impacts. In contrast, girls reported increased anxiety (OR: 1.63, 95% CI: 1.09, 2.45), especially among those who were concerned about their academic performance (OR: 1.85, 95% CI: 1.16, 2.97). Boys experienced no such increase (OR: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.55, 1.54), regardless of their education concerns. Discussion: Adolescents’ COVID-19 experiences are highly gendered and result in increased health inequalities, with greater mental health implications for girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Adolescent health
  • COVID-19 impacts
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Gender inequality
  • Mental health
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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