During the pandemic, some 25.9% of parents lied about their kids’ COVID test results to prevent their kids from having to miss school and other activities, a new study has found.
The survey, titled “Parental Nonadherence to Health Policy Recommendations for Prevention of COVID-19 Transmission Among Children,” was published in the Jama Network Open.
A team of researchers from universities in Iowa, Utah, Colorado, Connecticut and the U.K. conducted the study.
Of the 580 U.S. parents who responded to a national online survey in December 2021, more than a quarter reported “misrepresentation and/or nonadherence” in at least one of seven behaviors.
One of the most common behaviors (24% of parents) was failing to tell someone who had been around their child that they knew or suspected their child had COVID.
Another 21% of parents said they permitted their child to “break quarantine rules,” the study found.
The study authors wrote that the most common reason parents broke those rules was “to exercise personal freedom as a parent.”
Parents also said they wanted their child’s life to “feel normal” — and they didn’t want to have to miss work or other responsibilities in order to stay home with their children.
The average age of the parents was 35.9 years.
Most were women (403), compared to 171 men.
Multiple races and ethnicities were represented.
The study suggests that parents’ failure to adhere to public health measures may have hampered efforts to limit the spread of COVID, possibly “contributing to COVID 19-related morbidity and mortality.”
Additionally, the findings stated that “some children appear to have received a vaccine that was not fully tested and approved in their age group.”
The study did have some limitations.
It used a nonprobability sample — which means not all members of the population had the same chance of participating.
Additionally, because the results were self-reported, there is a chance some parents did not disclose their failure to comply with public health measures.
Even with the limitations, the study authors wrote that the findings “suggest a serious public health challenge in the immediate context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including future waves affecting weary parents, as well as future infectious disease outbreaks.”
They noted that more research is needed to pinpoint which groups are most likely to stray from COVID public health measures — and to identify the reasons behind breaking the rules.