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Caregivers of people with substance use or mental health disorders in the US.

Timko C, Lor MC, Rossi F, Peake A, Cucciare MA. Caregivers of people with substance use or mental health disorders in the US. Substance Abuse. 2022 Dec 1; 43(1):1268-1276.

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Caregiving for persons with substance use and/or mental health disorders (SU/MHD) and other conditions places significant strains on caregivers. The present study used Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (a US health survey) data to (1) compare caregivers of recipients with SU/MHD to those of recipients with other conditions on demographic and caregiving characteristics and health outcomes and (2) examine demographic and caregiving characteristics that were associated with poorer health outcomes among caregivers of persons with SU/MHD. Caregivers of people with SU/MHD were more likely than other caregiver groups (of recipients with medical, cognitive, developmental disability, and old age-related conditions) to report poor general health, physical health, and mental health, as well as activities limitations, having been diagnosed with depression, and binge drinking. Among the group of caregivers of recipients with SU/MHD, those caring for a parent were more likely to report poor physical health, poor mental health, depression, and binge drinking than those caring for a friend, relative, child, or spouse. In addition, caregivers who provided SU/MHD-related caregiving for a longer duration and for whom caregiving included household help were less likely to report poor mental health, depression, or binge drinking. Findings underscore the importance of the substance use disorder treatment system developing improved institutional and structural support for caregivers of recipients with SU/MHD.

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