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Family Caregiving During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Background and Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has negatively affected persons with existing chronic health conditions. The pandemic also has the potential to exacerbate the stresses of family caregiving. We compare family caregivers with noncaregivers on physical, psychosocial, and financial well-being outcomes during the pandemic and determine family caregivers most at risk for adverse outcomes. Research Design and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional online survey of 576 family caregivers and 2,933 noncaregivers from April to May 2020 in Pittsburgh, PA region with a national supplement. Outcome measures included concurrent anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance, social participation, and financial well-being and perceived changes due to COVID-19 (loneliness, financial well-being, food security). We also measured sociodemographic, caregiving contextual variables, and COVID-19-related caregiver stressors (COVID Caregiver Risk Index). Results: Controlling for sociodemographics, family caregivers reported higher anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance, lower social participation, lower financial well-being, increased food insecurity (all p <.01), and increased financial worries (p =.01). Caregivers who reported more COVID-19-related caregiver stressors and disruptions reported more adverse outcomes (all p <.01). In addition, caregivers who were female, younger, lower income, providing both personal/medical care, and providing care for cognitive/behavioral/emotional problems reported more adverse outcomes. Discussion and Implications: Challenges of caregiving are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Family caregivers reported increased duties, burdens, and resulting adverse health, psychosocial, and financial outcomes. Results were generally consistent with caregiver stress–health process models. Family caregivers should receive increased support during this serious public health crisis.

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