A Qualitative Study Regarding COVID-19 Inpatient Family Caregivers’ Need for Supportive Care

Angelo Picardi1, *
, Marco Miniotti2
, Paolo Leombruni2, #
, Antonella Gigantesco1, #

1 Centre of Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health, Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy
2 Department of Neuroscience, "Rita Levi Montalcini", University of Turin, Clinical Psychology Unit, AOU Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino, Turin, Italy

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© 2021 Picardi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Centre of Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health, Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy; E-mail:
#These authors equally contributed to the paper



Family caregivers of COVID-19 inpatients are exposed to multiple sources of distress. These include not only losing friends, colleagues and members of the family, but also the fear of possible losses in sociality, finances and, impoverished communication with sick family members and health care providers.


This study describes the psychological experience of COVID-19 inpatient family caregivers to highlight the main sources of distress, issues, concerns and unmet needs.


Two focus groups were independently organized with COVID-19 inpatient family caregivers and health care personnel of COVID-19 wards in order to highlight family caregivers’ practical and psychological burden and related needs. A thematic analysis was conducted to analyze the data.


Family caregivers mentioned they needed more information about the patient’s condition with more attention being paid to their own emotional state. Feelings of impotence, concerns about how to deal with patient’s discharge, significant psychological distress, and anxiety were frequently reported by study participants.


Study findings suggest the need to strengthen the assistance of COVID-19 patient family caregivers. In the pandemic scenario, family caregivers might represent a crucial resource, which can guarantee rapid discharges, support home health care and thus relieve pressure on hospital systems.

Keywords: COVID-19, Family caregiver, Health professionals, Psychological impact, Focus group, Supportive care.