New research shows that home care workers are much more likely to have poor mental health


A new study published on Wednesday found that one in five home healthcare workers said their mental health is poor—about twice the experience experienced by a typical American worker.

These data come from a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, which studied how home care workers assessed their health and well-being from 2014 to 2018. Researchers examined the responses of nearly 3,000 workers to behavioral health studies collected by the center for disease control and prevention.

The researchers compared the performance of home caregivers—a group of almost exclusively women, mainly women of color—with other types of low-paid medical staff (i.e., health care assistants and support staff). Inequality is very serious.

Poor mental health is closely related to anxiety and depression, which has become more common among women. Home care workers may not only have poor mental health (defined as the number of days with poor mental health more than 14 days in the study), but also have poor physical health. This indicator uses a comparable indicator.In contrast, approximately 14% of home care workers are in poor health About 11% The general population.

“We have learned from decades of experience that when they are helping patients every day, they may sacrifice their health at the expense of,” Dr. Madeleine Sterling, assistant professor at Weill Cornell School of Medicine Said, and the main author of the paper. “I think the result is a call to action.”

Because this data was collected before the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not indicate the way in which the health of home caregivers may have deteriorated in the past two years, and they spent The height of the pandemic Work on the front lines without government support.

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“The situation may have gotten worse,” Sterling admitted. “Workers on the front lines often have no resources, not enough pay, and they themselves are sick. It is draining.”

The wages of home care workers are already very low, and there is very little on-the-job protection. In 2020, the median income of home care workers is approximately US$13 per hour, or approximately US$27,000 per year. Bureau of Labor Statistics. almost one fifth Lack of health insurance. Another 40% get insurance through government programs, usually Medicaid, covering low-income groups.

Even now, workers do not receive paid sick leave protection. Home care workers are one of the few hourly workers who do not guarantee overtime pay. This situation can be traced back decades.

Sterling said that these seem to be factors that lead to deteriorating health.

“Even if you have the opportunity to see a doctor, about 31% of workers feel that this opportunity is limited by cost,” she said. “Any regulation that can raise wages, and-at least from our research-insurance status will be very helpful.”

Although Joe Biden promised to improve the pay and working conditions of home care providers during the presidential campaign, the scale of his current version of the “Rebuild Better” plan is far less extensive. Advocates worry It will not provide enough money to raise workers’ wages. The plan faces an uphill battle in the Senate, and there is no guarantee that it will be passed in its current form.



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