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Psychological, social and financial impact of COVID-19 on culturally and linguistically diverse communities: a cross-sectional Australian study

By Danielle M Muscat, Julie Ayre, Olivia Mac, Carys Batcup, Erin Cvejic, Kristen Pickles, Hankiz Dolan, Carissa Bonner, Dana Mouwad, Dipti Zachariah, Una Turalic, Yvonne Santalucia, Tingting Chen, Gordana Vasic, Kirsten J McCaffery

Posted 20 Oct 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.19.21265230

Objective: This study aimed to explore the psychological, social, and financial impacts of COVID-19 on culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia. Design: Cross-sectional survey informed by the Framework for Culturally Competent Health Research conducted between March and July, 2021. Setting: Participants were recruited from Greater Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Participants: 708 community members who speak a language other than English at home participated (mean age: 45.4years [range 18 to 91]; 88% [n=622] born outside of Australia). Outcome measures: Fifteen items regarding impacts of COVID-19, adapted from validated scales, previous surveys or co-designed in partnership with Multicultural Health and interpreter service staff. Logistic regression models (using post-stratification weighted frequencies) identified factors associated with psychological, social, and financial impacts. Surveys were available in English or translated (11 languages). Results: Even prior to the 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. One 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 distinct impact patterns for different language groups and more negative outcomes for those with comorbidities. Conclusion: Culturally and linguistically diverse communities experience significant psychological, social and financial impacts of COVID-19, with distinct impact patterns across language groups. A whole-of-government approach with policy and sustainable infrastructure is needed to co-design innovative, tailored and culturally-safe COVID-19 support packages.

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