An online survey of informal caregivers’ unmet needs and associated factors

Alexandra M.J. Denham, Olivia Wynne, Amanda L. Baker, Neil J. Spratt, Alyna Turner, Parker Magin, Kerrin Palazzi, Billie Bonevski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose/objective The purpose of this study was to assess the frequency of unmet needs of carers among a convenience sample of carers, and the participant factors associated with unmet needs, to inform the development of interventions that will support a range of caregivers. The aims of this study were to: (1) assess the most frequently reported moderate-high unmet needs of caregivers; and (2) examine the age, gender, condition of the care recipient, and country variables associated with types of unmet needs reported by informal caregivers. Research method/design An online cross-sectional survey among informal caregivers in English-speaking countries was conducted. Self-reported unmet needs were assessed using an unmet needs measure with the following five unmet needs domains: (1) Health information and support for care recipient; (2) Health service management; (3) Communication and relationship; (4) Self-care; and (5) Support services accessibility. Informal caregivers were asked “In the last month, what was your level of need for help with. . .”, and the ten highest ranked moderate-high unmet needs presented as ranked proportions. Logistic regression modelling examined the factors associated with types of unmet needs. Results Overall, 457 caregivers were included in the final analysis. Seven of the ten highest ranked unmet needs experienced by caregivers in the last month were in the Self-care domain, including “Reducing stress in your life” (74.1%). Significant associations were found between younger caregiver age (18–45 years) and reporting moderate-high unmet needs in Health Information and support for care recipient, Health service management, and Support services accessibility (all p’s = <0.05). Conclusions/implications Caregivers are not experiencing significant differences in unmet needs between countries and caree/care recipient conditions, suggesting that general interventions could be developed to support a range of caregivers across countries. Increased awareness of informal caregivers’ unmet needs, particularly for younger caregivers, among health care providers may improve support provision to caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0243502
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • caregivers
  • unmet needs
  • online survey
  • carers


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