Given these factors, this paper adds to the literature on family stress, social support, and vulnerable populations during COVID-19 by investigating the family-related stressors experienced by Filipino American essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways in which this group leverages social support in response to these stressors.
Methods: This study utilized secondary data collected by the “Work and Wellness Among Filipino/x Americans during the COVID-19 Pandemic” study. Four focus group interviews were analyzed with participants who identified as Filipino/Filipino American, were 18 years or older, spoke English or Tagalog, and were employed at the time of the interview in one of the following industries: healthcare, retail, food services, hospitality, manufacturing, caregiving, and education. The Filipino Migrant Center recruited participants by distributing fliers, making announcements at events, posting on social media, and sending emails to community members. Interviews elicited participants’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic including the effects of the pandemic, the support they had, and how they coped during the pandemic. Interviews were transcribed via the Zoom platform. Interviews were coded through an intercoder consensus process and guided by an interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach.
Findings: Data analysis reveals that family-related stress centered on a heightened sense of responsibility as an essential worker and family member. Additional family-related stress included an overwhelming sense of guilt over situations out of one’s control, a constant concern for family safety and well-being, and unresolved feelings regarding losses resulting from the pandemic. Findings also revealed that participants leveraged social support in response to these stressors by creating virtual spaces of connection and actively fostering communication within the family to better understand and be understood by others. Participants also generated support by providing support to their family and community.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings highlight the family-related stressors experienced by a particularly vulnerable population during a unique time in world history. Furthermore, findings call attention to the ways in which this population leveraged and sustained social support despite facing restrictions that severely limited human interaction. By examining the experiences of Filipino American essential workers during the pandemic, the relationship between family-related stress and social support as a form of coping is revealed.