COVID-19 lockdown impact on familial relationships and mental health in a large representative sample of Italian adults

Margherita Zeduri, Giacomo Pietro Vigezzi, Greta Carioli, Alessandra Lugo, Chiara Stival, Andrea Amerio, Giuseppe Gorini, Roberta Pacifici, Pierluigi Politi, Silvano Gallus, Anna Odone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Benefits of national-level stay-at-home order imposed in Italy to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission need to be carefully weighed against its impact on citizens’ health. In a country with a strong familial culture and where welfare relies on households, confinement drastically decreased support provided by elder relatives, which may have resulted in mental health worsening. Methods: A web-based cross-sectional study (LOST in Italy) was conducted on a representative sample of Italian adults during lockdown (27th of April–3rd of May 2020). We asked 3156 subjects to report on reduced help in housework and childcare from retired parents to assess the impact of confinement on mental health, through validated scales before and during lockdown. Results: Overall, 1484 (47.0%) subjects reported reduced housework help from parents, and 769 (64.0%, of the 1202 subjects with children) diminished babysitting support. Subjects reporting reduced housework help had worsened sleep quality (multivariate odds ratio, OR = 1.74, 95% confidence interval, CI 1.49–2.03) and quantity (OR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.28–1.76), depressive (OR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.14–1.53) and anxiety symptoms (OR = 1.53, 95% CI 1.32–1.78), compared to those reporting unreduced help. Worsening in sleep quality (OR = 2.32, 95% CI 1.76–3.05), and quantity (OR = 1.80, 95% CI 1.36–2.37), depressive (OR = 1.79, 95% CI 1.39–2.31) and anxiety symptoms (OR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.48–2.46) was also associated with reduced babysitting help. Mental health outcomes were worse in subjects with poorer housing and teleworking during lockdown. Conclusion: Confinement came along with reduced familial support from parents, negatively impacting household members’ mental health. Our findings might inform evidence-based family and welfare policies to promote population health within and beyond pandemic times.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • COVID-19 home confinement
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Familial relations
  • Italy
  • Mental health
  • Social security system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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