Caregiving tasks and unmet supportive care needs of family caregivers: A U.S. population-based study

Patient Educ Couns. 2020 Mar;103(3):626-634. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2019.10.015. Epub 2019 Oct 24.


Objective: To describe the type of care provided by a nationally-representative sample of informal caregivers, the frequency of unmet supportive care needs, and examine characteristics associated with unmet needs.

Methods: Using data from the Health Information National Trends Survey, we identified caregivers of an adult care recipient. Descriptive statistics examined support provided by caregivers for activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and caregiver perceptions of their needs in five areas: medical/nursing tasks, accessing services, respite care, support groups, and counseling for caregivers. Bivariate statistics examined sociodemographic and caregiver characteristics associated with each need.

Results: Among 316 caregivers, 30.9% reported at least one unmet supportive care need. Caregivers most often provided support for 0-2 ADLs and 5-7 IADLs. Younger age and longer duration of time caregiving were associated with unmet supportive care needs for medical/nursing training (p = 0.02 and 0.04, respectively). Caregivers providing assistance with more ADLs reported needs for respite care support (p=0.03).

Conclusion: Subgroups of caregivers that may be most vulnerable with greater unmet supportive care needs are those that are younger, have provided care for longer, and those assisting with more ADLs. Future research should explore these factors to inform intervention development.

Keywords: Caregiving; HINTS; Health education; Unmet needs.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires