Preventative practices and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregivers of children with pediatric pulmonary hypertension
Nelson EJ., Cook E., Pierce M., Nelson S., Seelos AB., Stickle H., Brown R., Johansen M.
Background: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a serious and life-threatening disease characterized by elevated mean arterial pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance. COVID-19 may exacerbate PH, as evidenced by higher mortality rates among those with PH. The objective of this study was to understand the unique burdens that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed upon families of children living with PH. Methods: Participants were recruited online through the “Families of children with pulmonary hypertension” Facebook group and asked to complete a survey about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: A total of 139 parents/caregivers of children living with PH completed the online survey. Almost all (85.6%) of parents/caregivers had received the COVID-19 vaccine, though only 59.7% reported a willingness to vaccinate their child with PH against COVID-19. Over 75% of parents/caregivers felt that they practiced preventative measures (e.g., wearing a facemask, social distancing, and avoiding gatherings) more than those in the community where they live. They also reported several hardships related to caring for their child with PH during the pandemic such as financial duress, loss of work, and affording treatment costs. Conclusions: These findings indicate that parents/caregivers of children at higher risk for COVID-19 complications may be more willing to act on clinical recommendations themselves as proxy for protecting those at high risk. The economic, emotional and social impacts of COVID-19 are significantly greater for high-risk individuals.