Family Functioning and the Pandemic: How Do Parental Perceived Social Support and Mental Health Contribute to Family Health?

Gervais, C., Côté, I., Pierce, T., Vallée-Ouimet, S., de Montigny, F. (2023, mai)

Canadian Journal of Nursing Research


The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine measures implemented have profoundly impacted parents and families. The stress and uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 virus, as well as the disruption of routines and social relationships, have weakened both individual and family health and functioning.


The present research is part of a larger study that aims to understand, with a family systems theory, the longitudinal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on school-aged children, adolescents, and their parents. More specifically, this paper aims to investigate parents’ experience of the first months of the pandemic as a predictor of perceived social support, parental ill-being (aggregate score of well-established poor psychological functioning indicators), parental satisfaction, and family functioning.


During the first lockdown (April-May 2020), 203 parents of school-aged children living in Quebec completed an online questionnaire.


Path analysis indicates that the impact of COVID-19 and health preoccupation due to COVID-19 are both positively associated with individual parental ill-being, which in turn detracts from family functioning and parental satisfaction. Furthermore, perceptions about positive effects of the pandemic are negatively associated with parental ill-being, and positively with perceived social support, which in turn significantly contributes to family functioning and parental satisfaction.


The findings highlight the importance of adopting a systemic perspective to best understand the effects of the pandemic and the social and health measures on individuals, families, and systems, as well as to better support parents and family health through periods of uncertainty.