In a large population-based study, researchers sought to investigate the characteristics associated with unmet support service needs among rural carers. They analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for the 28 U.S. states (including DC and Puerto Rico) that participated in the caregiving module from 2015 to 2020. They selected rural caregivers by utilizing the metropolitan statistical area (rural) and asking, “Did you offer regular care or help to a friend or family member who has a health condition or handicap in the last 30 days?” The adjusted odds ratios (aORs) of characteristics related to unmet support service demands were calculated using logistic regression models that included sample weights (classes about giving care, help with service access, support groups, individual counselling, respite). Sociodemographic (gender, race, age, education, income, work position, marital status) and caregiving-related (intensity [±20 hours/week and ±2-year duration], caregiver–care recipient relationship, and primary care recipient health condition) characteristics were included.
About 17% of the 5,934 rural caregivers involved in the study approved unmet needs, representing 1.7 million people. Access to services was most commonly praised (47%), followed by support groups (17%) and respite care (16%). Black vs. White race (aOR: 1.7; 95% CI: 1.1-2.5), college vs. high school graduation (aOR: 1.8; 95% CI: 1.3-2.5), and greater- vs. lower-intensity caregiving were all linked with a higher risk of any unmet requirement (aOR: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.4-3.1). Many rural caregivers in the United States report unmet support service requirements, particularly Black caregivers, those with greater educational attainment, and those who provide more intensive care.