Psychol Assess. 2023 Nov;35(11):1000-1009. doi: 10.1037/pas0001267.
This study examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cognitive and academic functioning in 574 youth presenting for outpatient clinical neuropsychiatric evaluations. We extended the prior literature by (a) determining the extent to which academic difficulties documented in population and community samples also occurred in child psychiatric outpatients; (b) evaluating the impact of the pandemic on neuropsychological functions relevant to academic performance (overall cognition, executive functions, and graphomotor skill); and (c) investigating the moderating impact of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. We compared cross-sectional scores on standardized measures for groups of youth evaluated at three time periods related to the COVID-19 pandemic: (a) prior to onset (PRIOR; N = 198), (b) during Year 1 (Y1; N = 149), and (c) during Year 2 (Y2; N = 227). Relative to overall cognitive ability, math scores were lower in Y1 and Y2 and reading scores were lower in Y2. Additionally, relative to overall cognitive ability, youth showed lower working memory in Y1 and lower processing speed in Y1 and Y2. Graphomotor skill and parent-rated executive functions (EF) did not vary significantly across the three time periods. ADHD status did not moderate psychometric test scores but did moderate parent-rated EF. These data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted academic and executive functions in child psychiatry outpatients. More research is needed to understand the long-term implications for development. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).