Public Health Response to COVID-19: Addressing Financial Strain-related Health Impacts of the Pandemic
CONTEXT: The COVID‑19 pandemic is having a devastating effect on people’s health. Also because of COVID-19, people are facing unprecedented levels of financial strain due to the economic market collapse, job loss, social isolation, illness, and increased caring duties. Financial strain is the feeling of being unable to make ends meet. It occurs when people cannot pay their bills, feel worried about money, and experience negative impacts on their quality of life and health. Adults under financial strain are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, work absenteeism, and poor physical health. Their children are prone to loneliness, depression, poor mental health, and disability into adulthood. The COVID‑19 related public health response to financial strain will be vital now and for societal recovery. PURPOSE: Our team will develop a public health framework on financial strain, as well an indicator tool-kit relevant to diverse settings and groups. This research is focused on the consequences of the sudden collapse of a system as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Our findings could also help offset financial strain during other public health emergencies. APPROACH: This proposal builds on our previous work on financial strain. We propose a multi-method comparative study, organized as four parts, and occurring in Canada and Australia. Part 1 involves a rapid realist review and international environmental scan to community-led and government strategies to address financial strain and health impacts. We will also do a policy review of government policies on COVID-related financial strain. Part 2 is interviews with government representatives (multiple levels) and organizations addressing financial strain. A financial strain framework will be developed from Parts 1+2. Part 3 will identify relevant indicators to guide action and lead to a tool-kit for practitioners. Part 4 is the involvement of two Practice Advisory Committees (CDA and AUS) in all project activities.