Risk and resilience of vulnerable families in Hong Kong under the impact of COVID-19: an ecological resilience perspective

Xiaoyu Zhuang*, Yin Yim Lau, Wilson Man Ho Chan, Bob Siu Chui Lee, Daniel Fu Keung Wong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Hong Kong has experienced four waves of COVID-19 since the first case was confirmed in January 2020. Several studies have highlighted the psychological impacts of the outbreak in Hong Kong but have largely ignored the protective factors that contribute to resilience among vulnerable families. This study adopted an ecological resilience framework to explore the impact of this epidemic on members of families with youth with a delinquent tendency/mental health concerns and the ecological protective factors for these vulnerable families.

Methods: Random sampling based on a sampling frame provided by one of the largest local social service organizations in Hong Kong led to the recruitment of 407 respondents who were interviewed using a battery of standardized questionnaires.

Results: The results showed that 30.6% and 11.5% of respondents reported a moderate and a severe level of psychological distress, respectively, almost double the percentages reported in a previous study conducted in Hong Kong before the COVID-19 outbreak. Around 36.6% of respondents indicated they had encountered financial problems and almost 40% indicated aggravated financial circumstances since the outbreak. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that financial stress was the strongest predictor of psychological distress. Structural equation modeling indicated that family support, indoor leisure activities and community resources significantly mediated the negative influence of COVID-19-related stressors on psychological distress of family members.

Conclusion: Family leisure activities, family support, community spirit and mutual help within the context of social-distancing restrictions may need to be promoted to benefit vulnerable families in Hong Kong under the COVID-19 epidemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2311–2322
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Vulnerable families
  • Family support
  • Community resources
  • Ecological resilience model


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