There is an elevated risk of health-related socioeconomic vulnerabilities (HRSVs) among family and friends who provide ongoing care for a sick or dependent individual (“caregivers”). Women caregivers were compared to non-caregivers to determine the prevalence of HRSVs prior to the pandemic and the effects of the pandemic’s early stages on HRSVs. Around 30% of 3,200 female respondents in an April 2020 (early pandemic) cross-sectional survey in the United States were caretakers. Researchers predicted the adjusted probability of experiencing HRSVs (financial stress, food/housing insecurity, interpersonal violence, and transportation/utility issues) prior to and during the early pandemic by caregiving status. Adjustments were made to the models for age, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, income, number of individuals in the family, number of children in the household, physical and mental health, and the presence of comorbidities. For example, prior to the pandemic, 63% of caregivers and 47% of non-caregivers both indicated at least 1 risk, with food insecurity being the most common concern (48% of caregivers versus 33% of non-caregivers, P<.01). Early pandemic caregivers were more likely than non-caregivers to experience financial strain (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.1; 95% CI, 1.6-2.7) or a worsening of financial strain (AOR = 2.0; 95% CI, 1.4-2.8), interpersonal violence (AOR = 2.0; 95% CI, 1.5-2.7), food insecurity (AOR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.2-2.1), transportation difficulties (AOR = Caretakers were more likely than the general population to experience an HRSV episode or deterioration during the 2019 coronavirus illness (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, caregivers should be at the center of COVID-19 response and recovery activities to prevent preventable HRSVs and improve the health of individuals who rely on them.

Source: annfammed.org/content/20/5/406