Perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare communication in a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of family caregivers

BMJ Open. 2022 Apr 13;12(4):e051154. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051154.


Objective: To understand the perceptions of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare communication with family caregivers.

Design: Nationally representative survey.

Setting: USA (national).

Participants: 340 family caregivers, demographically representative of the US population by race/ethnicity.

Primary outcome measures: Communication outcomes (feeling involved by the provider, feeling involved by the care recipient, feeling more encouraged to be involved in care, feeling contributory to discussions, feeling questions are being answered), behavioural/wellness outcomes (feeling anxious, feeling isolated, feeling it is easier to attend the clinic visit), and desire to continue using telemedicine.

Results: Having less than a college degree was associated with decreased odds of feeling involved by the provider (OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.26 to 0.83; p=0.01), feeling involved by the care recipient (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.24 to 0.79; p=0.01), feeling more encouraged to be involved in care (OR 0.49; 95% CI 0.27 to 0.86; p=0.01), feeling like they contribute to discussions (OR 0.45; 95% CI 0.25 to 0.82; p=0.01) and feeling like their questions are being answered (OR 0.33; 95% CI 0.18 to 0.60; p<0.001).

Conclusion: In our sample, the shift to telemedicine during COVID-19 was well received but caregivers of low educational attainment reported poorer health communication, and a greater proportion of black/African American and Hispanic caregivers reported a desire to return to in-person visits. There is an opportunity to improve health systems and increase equity as telemedicine becomes more widespread.

Keywords: COVID-19; caregivers; health communications; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Caregivers
  • Communication
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine*