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Collateral positives of COVID-19 for culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Western Sydney, Australia

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

Posted 23 Oct 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.20.21265299

Issues addressed: To investigate whether culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Western Sydney have experienced any positive effects during the COVID19 pandemic, and if so, what these were. Methods: A cross sectional survey with ten language groups was conducted from 21st March to 9th July 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Participants were recruited through bilingual multicultural health staff and health care interpreter service staff and answered a question, In your life, have you experienced any positive effects from the COVID-19 pandemic? Differences were explored by demographic variables. Free text responses were thematically coded using the Content Analysis method. Results: 707 people completed the survey, aged 18 to >70, 49% males and 51% females. Only 161 (23%) of those surveyed reported any positive impacts. There were significant differences in the proportion of those who reported positives based on age (p=0.004), gender (p=0.013), language (p=0.003), health literacy (p=0.014), English language proficiency (p=0.003), education (p=<0.001) and whether participants had children less than 18 years at home (p=0.001). Reporting of positive impacts ranged from 12% for people aged seventy years or older to 30% for the 30-49 year age group. Reporting of positive impacts for different language groups ranged from 9% to 42%. 18% of men reported positive impacts compared to 27% of women, and 18% of people with inadequate health literacy reported positive impacts compared to 26% with adequate health literacy. Content Analysis of open ended responses showed that, of those that did report positives, the top themes were Family time (44%), Improved self care (31%) and, Greater connection with others (17%). Conclusions: From 21st March to July 9th, 2021, few surveyed participants reported finding any positives because of the COVID19 pandemic. This finding is in stark contrast to related research in Australia in a population dominated by adults with English as their first language, carried out in June 2020, in which many more people experienced positives. So what: The needs of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds must inform future responses to community crises to facilitate an equitable effect of any collateral positives that may arise.

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