Psychological, social and financial impacts of COVID-19 on culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Sydney, Australia.

BMJ Journals
Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMJ Open, 2022, 12, (5), pp. 1-11
Issue Date:
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OBJECTIVE: To explore the psychological, social and financial outcomes of COVID-19-and the sociodemographic predictors of those outcomes-among culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Sydney, Australia. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey informed by the Framework for Culturally Competent Health Research conducted between March and July 2021. SETTING: Participants who primarily speak a language other than English at home were recruited from Greater Western Sydney, New South Wales. PARTICIPANTS: 708 community members (mean age: 45.4 years (range 18-91)). 88% (n=622) were born outside of Australia, 31% (n=220) did not speak English well or at all, and 41% (n=290) had inadequate health literacy. OUTCOME MEASURES: Thirteen items regarding COVID-19-related psychological, social and financial outcomes were adapted from validated scales, previous surveys or co-designed in partnership with Multicultural Health and interpreter service staff. Logistic regression models (using poststratification weighted frequencies) were used to identify sociodemographic predictors of outcomes. Surveys were available in English or translated (11 languages). RESULTS: In this analysis, conducted prior to the 2021 COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, 25% of the sample reported feeling nervous or stressed most/all of the time and 22% felt lonely or alone most/all of the time. A quarter of participants reported negative impacts on their spousal relationships as a result of COVID-19 and most parents reported that their children were less active (64%), had more screen time (63%) and were finding school harder (45%). Mean financial burden was 2.9/5 (95% CI 2.8 to 2.9). Regression analyses consistently showed more negative outcomes for those with comorbidities and differences across language groups. CONCLUSION: Culturally and linguistically diverse communities experience significant psychological, social and financial impacts of COVID-19. A whole-of-government approach is needed to support rapid co-design of culturally safe support packages in response to COVID-19 and other national health emergencies, tailored appropriately to specific language groups and accounting for pre-existing health disparities.
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