Research Mentor(s): Alicia Carmichael, Research Process Director
Research Mentor School/College/Department: U-M Institute for Social Research – Research Center for Group Dynamics,
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 2 (11am – 11:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 13
Background: More than 130,000 people in the United States have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 associated illness (March, 2020 – January, 2021). After hospital discharge, close friends and relatives of COVID-19 patients are responsible for the bulk of non-professional caregiving. Although caregiving has been well-researched in other diseases, not much is known about non-professional caregiving for COVID-19 patients within the constraints imposed by a global pandemic. Objective: The objective of this study is to catalog patients’ and caregivers’ perspectives on barriers and facilitators to caregiving during COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and recovery. Methods: Trained interviewers conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 patient-caregiver dyads. All patient-caregiver dyads were aged 18 and over and resided within the United States. Caregivers were family or friends without medical training. Patients were hospitalized in an ICU for a COVID-19-related illness. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using the RADaR qualitative analysis technique. Results: Analysis is ongoing, but preliminary themes have emerged. Themes of caregiving barriers include the fluidity of care roles, knowledge deficit, financial challenges, and isolation. Themes of caregiving facilitators include technology, emotional support, and formal support. Conclusion: Unique but overlapping themes of facilitators and barriers to caregiving were identified among both caregivers and patients. The isolation caused by the pandemic has added a new dimension to both the caregiver and patient experience. Looking at other types of caregiving may help provide context to these findings. Implications: Identifying the current barriers and facilitators of COVID-19 caregiving can help us understand what is needed to improve the overall well-being of COVID-19 patients. This research is important because it can help reduce rehospitalization rates through the caregiving role and inform public health interventions to support caregivers and patients during pandemics.