Background: The advent of COVID-19 abruptly thrust the health and safety of children and families into greater risk around the world. As regional and local governments, nongovernmental organizations, communities, families, and children grapple with the immediate public health impact of COVID-19, the rights and well-being of children, especially those who are already marginalized, have been overlooked. Those working with children have likely encountered unprecedented challenges and responded in innovative ways in efforts to address the needs and rights of all children.

Objective: This paper presents a protocol for a large-scale, multinational study using a new smartphone app to capture the real-time experiences and perspectives of practitioners and policymakers supporting children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe in relation to a children's human rights 4P framework of protection, provision, prevention, and participation.

Methods: This protocol describes a mixed methods survey utilizing a custom-built iOS and Android smartphone app called the COVID 4P Log for Children’s Wellbeing, which was developed in close consultation with 17 international key partner organizations. Practitioners and policymakers working with and for children’s well-being across 29 countries and 5 continents were invited to download the app and respond to questions over the course of 8 weeks. The anticipated large amount of qualitative and quantitative response data will be analyzed using content analysis, descriptive statistics, and word frequencies.

Results: Formal data collection took place from October 2020 until March 2021. Data analysis was completed in July 2021.

Conclusions: The findings will directly inform the understanding of the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted practitioners', managers', and policymakers' efforts to support children’s well-being in their practices, services, and policies, respectively. Innovative and ambitious in its scope and use of smartphone technology, this project also aims to inform and inspire future multinational research using app-based methodologies—the demand for which is likely to continue to dramatically rise in the COVID-19 era. Mitigating the risks of longitudinal remote data collection will help maximize the acceptability of the app, respondents' sustained engagement, and data quality.


This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

Cite as

Davidson, J., Karadzhov, D. & Wilson, G. 2021, 'Practitioners' and policymakers' successes, challenges, innovations, and learning in promoting children's well-being during COVID-19: protocol for a multinational smartphone app survey', JMIR Research Protocols, 10(7), article no: e31013. https://doi.org/10.2196/31013

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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