FRIDAY, Feb. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Almost 20 percent of informal caregivers in the United States report being in fair or poor health, with considerable variation between states, according to research published in the Feb. 21 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Valerie J. Edwards, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collected during 2015 to 2017 to examine demographic characteristics and the health status of informal caregivers from 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The researchers found that about one in five adults reported providing care to a family member or friend in the previous 30 days. Of the caregivers, 58 percent were women; most were non-Hispanic white, had at least some college education, and were married or living with a partner. Overall, 19.2 percent of caregivers reported being in fair or poor health across all states, with considerable state-to-state variation. The estimates varied from 11.7 to 34.4 percent in Minnesota and Puerto Rico, respectively. Age-adjusted rates of fair or poor caregiver health were ≥20 percent in 19 states.

“Better understanding of caregivers and the challenges they face could inform implementation of improvements in support systems that could enhance not only the health of the caregiver, but that of the care recipient as well,” the authors write.

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