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The burden of family caregiving in the United States: work productivity, health care resource utilization, and mental health among employed adults

Authors Hopps M, Iadeluca L, McDonald M, Makinson GT

Received 22 February 2017

Accepted for publication 14 September 2017

Published 6 December 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 437—444

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S135372

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Markay Hopps, Laura Iadeluca, Margaret McDonald, Geoffrey T Makinson

Pfizer Inc., New York, NY, USA

Background: Family caregiving is an increasingly important component of care for patients and the elderly.
Objective: The aim of this study is to characterize the burden of family caregiving among employed adults.
Methods: Employed adults (≥18 years) from the 2013 US National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS) were classified as family caregivers if they reported currently caring for at least one adult relative. Chi-square tests and one-way analyses of variance assessed whether employed caregivers, weighted to the US population, differed from employed non-caregivers on behavioral characteristics, workplace productivity, and health care resource utilization.
Results: Eight million workers were family caregivers in the United States, more often female than male (51% vs. 49%, P < 0.05), and 53% were between 40 and 64 years of age. Eighteen percent of caregivers were Hispanic compared with 15% of non-caregivers (P < 0.05). Similar behavioral characteristics between caregivers and non-caregivers included daily alcohol consumption (6% vs. 5%) and lack of vigorous exercise (25% vs. 29%), but caregivers had a higher prevalence of smoking (26% vs. 19%, P < 0.05). Caregivers reported a higher mean percentage of work time missed (8% vs. 4%, P < 0.05) and greater productivity impairment (24% vs. 14%, P < 0.05). Some form of depression was reported by 53% of caregivers compared with 32% of non-caregivers (P < 0.05), and more caregivers had self-reported insomnia than non-caregivers (46% vs. 37%, P < 0.05). The number of self-reported diagnosed comorbidities was higher among caregivers compared with that of non-caregivers (5.0 vs. 3.1, P < 0.05), as was the mean number of outpatient visits in the previous 6 months (4.1 vs. 2.7, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Family caregiving is associated with a multidimensional burden that impacts caregivers and has implications for employers and the health care system. Clinicians and employers need to recognize and understand this burden. Characterization of caregivers as reported in this study can inform development of targeted programs to help mitigate the burden.

Keywords: caregiver burden, productivity, mental health, health care resource use, workforce, employed, family caregivers

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