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Polenick CA, Lei L, Zhou AN, Birditt KS, Maust DT. Caregiver status and illness self-efficacy during the COVID-19 pandemic among older adults with chronic conditions. Aging & mental health. 2022 Mar 1; 26(3):563-569.
OBJECTIVES: Older adults providing unpaid care to a relative or friend during the COVID-19 pandemic may have diminished self-efficacy in managing their own chronic illness, especially in the context of more complex self-management. We evaluated whether adults aged 50 and older with caregiving roles are more likely to report reduced illness self-efficacy since the pandemic, and whether this link is exacerbated by a higher number of conditions. METHODS: Participants (105 caregivers and 590 noncaregivers) residing in Michigan (82.6%) and 33 other U.S. states completed one online survey between May 14 and July 9, 2020. RESULTS: Controlling for sociodemographic and health characteristics, stressors related to COVID-19, and behavioral and psychosocial changes since the pandemic, caregivers were more likely than noncaregivers to report reduced illness self-efficacy when they had a higher number of chronic conditions. CONCLUSION: These findings highlight the importance of maintaining caregivers' self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic and in future public health crises.