Measuring the Impact of COVID-19 on Stress and Families

El Centro shares new bilingual measures addressing effects of pandemic stress, social distancing, and more.
Measuring the Impact of COVID-19 on Stress and Families

The School of Nursing and Health Studies’ Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research: El Centro aims to advance capacity for research to address the well-being of vulnerable populations, including non-English speakers, by facilitating access to a collection of measures with Spanish translations.

Now, amid the rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), three important new measures are publicly available on the El Centro Measures Library, housed at Offered in English and Spanish, these COVID-19 measures were translated by study teams from the Center for Latino Research Opportunities (CLaRO) and the University of Miami Center for HIV and Research in Mental Health (CHARM).

The COVID-19 Household Environment Scale (CHES) was developed by CLaRO director and SONHS Professor Victoria Behar-Zusman, PhD, and CLaRO coordinator Jennifer Chavez, MPH. The CHES aims to capture the impact of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic on household conflict and cohesion, important factors affecting resilience in the face of major stressful events.

According to Behar-Zusman, “COVID-19 will leave an indelible mark on individuals and families, and that mark will be colored, in part, by the emotional climate in the home. How children and adults emerge from this disaster will be affected by whether they remember it as a time of loss, fear, and strife at home, or whether they remember it as a time when they were able to connect with their loved ones despite the life disruptions and threats to personal safety.”

She is currently conducting a study to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the family environment. To learn more about the study and participate, visit

Another recently added measure is the Pandemic Stress Index (PSI), which is designed to gain insights that may help address COVID-19-related challenges and stressors by understanding specific behavior changes and other day-to-day impacts individuals have experienced during the pandemic. Audrey Harkness, PhD, a research assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences (Prevention Science and Community Health) at UM’s Miller School of Medicine and a CLaRO investigator, led development of the measure.

Finally, Denise C. Vidot, PhD, assistant professor at SONHS, has spearheaded the creation of a COVID-19 Cannabis Health measure and launched a preliminary study into the outbreak’s effects on medicinal cannabis users.

By early April, over 1 million COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in more than 180 countries and 200 territories, with half the Earth’s population compelled to stay home to help halt its spread. Given the pandemic’s global impact, Behar-Zusman says there will be more COVID-19-related measures to come, with the intent of sharing them with researchers worldwide.

COVID-19 measures and study surveys can be found at Email to contact the El Centro or CLaRO team for research collaboration using these measures or to translate the measures into other languages.

This work was completed with support from the Center for Latino Health Research Opportunities - U54MD002266 (PI: Behar-Zusman) and the Center for HIV and Research in Mental Health – P30MH116867 (PI: Safren). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.