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BACKGROUND: Major disruptions to daily life routines made families and parents particularly vulnerable to psychological distress during the COVID-19 lockdowns. However, the specific psychopathological processes related to within-person variation and maintenance of anxiety symptomatology and parental distress components in the parental population have been largely unexplored in the literature. METHODS: In this preregistered intensive longitudinal study, a multilevel dynamic network was used to model within-person interactions between anxiety symptomatology, psychopathological processes, parental distress, and protective lifestyle components in a sample of 495 parents-each responding to daily assessments over a 40-day period. A total of 30,195 observations were collected across the subjects. RESULTS: Extensive worry, threat monitoring, and uncontrollability of worry were identified as overreaching psychopathological processes related to the aggravation of other symptoms of anxiety and parental distress. A strong association was found between parental stress and parental burnout. Anger toward one's child was associated with both parental stress and parental burnout. Protective factors showed the lowest strength centrality, with few and weak connections to other symptoms and processes in the network. LIMITATIONS: Associations may exist between the study variables on a different time scale; hence, different time lags should be used in future research. CONCLUSIONS: Accessible, low-cost interventions that address worry, threat monitoring, and the uncontrollability of worry could serve as potential targets for reducing the symptom burden of anxiety and distress in the parental population.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





329 - 337


Dynamic network analysis, Intensive longitudinal study, Parental stress, anxiety, Child, Humans, COVID-19, Longitudinal Studies, Pandemics, Stress, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires, Communicable Disease Control, Anxiety, Parents