Daily implementation of health-protective behaviors and family life during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic

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The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has necessitated the use of health-protective behaviors (HPB), such as social distancing, staying at home, frequent handwashing, and wearing facemasks to mitigate the transmission of disease. An investigation of interpersonal costs associated with the use of HPB can help inform strategies to promote their sustained implementation. This study examined the daily associations between the implementation of HPB and family functioning and assessed moderation by coparenting quality, economic strain, and the number of days that state-level stay-at-home policies had been in effect, during the early days of the pandemic. Mothers and fathers from 155 families with children who were 9 years old, on average, completed daily reports of HPB, parental stress, and family relationship quality over eight consecutive days in April or May of 2020. Hierarchal linear models showed that HPB was associated with increased levels of parental stress and interparental conflict. Negative coparenting relations exacerbated the next-day association between HPB and interparental conflict. HPB was also associated with increased levels of parent–child and interparental closeness, but these linkages dissipated for families who had spent more days under state-level stay-at-home policies. Although crucial for public health, the implementation of HPB may have detrimental short-term effects on daily family life. Family support and interventions are necessary to minimize the psychosocial burden of these important public health measures and increase their sustained adherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily Process
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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