4-in-10 U.S. adults care for sick parent or child

June 20, 2013 at 10:09 AM
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PHILADELPHIA, June 20 (UPI) -- Thirty-nine percent of U.S. adults care for a relative with significant health issues, up from 30 percent in 2010, a Pew Research Center survey indicates.

Caring for a spouse, parent, in-law, or child cuts across most demographic groups, but is especially prevalent among adults ages 30-64, a group in their prime working years.

The caregivers are more wired and are heavier technology users than the general population, the survey found. After controlling for age, income, education, ethnicity and good overall health, caregivers are more likely than other adults to:

-- Gather health information online, particularly about medical problems, treatments and drugs.

-- Gather health information offline, from clinicians, friends, family and others who share the same health condition.

-- Go online specifically to try to figure out what condition they or someone else might have.

-- Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.

-- Track their own weight, diet, exercise routine or other health indicator.

-- Read online about someone else's personal health experience, which in the case of caregivers, could be related to their own or a loved one's condition.

-- Go online to find others with similar health concerns.

This survey found 75 percent of U.S. adults age 65 and older are living with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Numerous studies show the day-to-day management of these complex medical cases falls squarely on family members and friends who might not have any health training and to make up for this, caregivers turn to every resource available -- primarily the Internet.

The telephone survey of 3,014 U.S. adults -- 1,171 respondents were caregivers -- was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International in English and Spanish Aug. 7-Sept. 6. The overall margin of error was 2.4 percentage points and for caregivers the margin of error was 4 percentage points.

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