Chronic care management for the medically vulnerable during the pandemic : experiences of family caregivers of youth with substance use disorders in Zambia

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Background: Substance use disorders are among the chronic conditions that affect all age groups. Worldwide, there is an increase in young people affected by SUDs, which implies that more and more family members are transitioning into the caregiver role. Family caregivers play a buffering role in the formal healthcare system due to their involvement in caring for persons with acute and chronic conditions in the home setting. Current research in Zambia shows that caregivers of youth with problematic alcohol and marijuana experience myriad challenges in managing daily care for this medically vulnerable group. In addition, the poor health-seeking behaviors of youth with SUDs, coupled with the effects of the pandemic, made caregiving a daunting task for most family caregivers. Issues such as limited and unavailable psychotropic medications, social stigma and discrimination, financial hurdles, systemic barriers in child and adolescent mental healthcare services, and the lack of a perceived vulnerability to Covid-19 by youth with SUDs are experiences of family caretakers.

Methods: A qualitative study with 30 family caregivers explored their lived experiences and subjective meanings using two in-depth semi-structured interviews, a careography/caregiving timeline, and participant observation.

Results/Policy implications: Most family caregivers had challenges in having the youth access healthcare services, let alone adhere to Covid-19 preventive measures. Most young people were usually unavailable, and their whereabouts were unknown. Given this, FCGs had difficulties regarding medication management for SUD recovery. There is a need for policies and interventions for youth mental health and substance use recovery in the (post) pandemic era.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2022
EventHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference: Health and Wellbeing in (Post-) Pandemic Times - Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China
Duration: 3 Dec 20223 Dec 2022
Conference number: 23


ConferenceHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference
CityHong Kong
OtherAs an unprecedented public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the focal concern of sociologists around the world. Globally, there have been over six hundred million confirmed cases, including over six million of deaths. Over the past few years, we have experienced the tremendous impacts brought by the pandemic on various domains of life. Apart from infected and death cases, we have seen a surge of mental health issues, suicides, domestic violence, as well as plummeting economic growth and escalating unemployment and poverty rates. Whether to embrace the “new normal” by easing public health and social distancing measures is a contentious issue as much among world leaders as ordinary citizens. From a sociological perspective, most impacts brought by the pandemic are believed to be structural and long lasting. As not everyone has equal access to vaccines, personal protective equipment, healthcare and other resources, health and social inequalities are expected to be worsening. There are also concerns about the lack of affordable childcare and technological equipment for attending online classes during pandemic times, which would have lingering effects on education, digital, and social inequalities across generations.

Against this background, this conference aims to address the pressing issues of health and wellbeing in pandemic and post-pandemic times from a sociological perspective. It provides a platform for scholars, students, and other stakeholders to discuss the implications of the pandemic for health and social inequalities among other issues. On that basis, participants will explore practical and policy responses to enhance health and wellbeing in the (post-)pandemic condition.
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