Background and Purpose-Research has revealed that caring for a stroke patient can result in caregiver strain and a myriad of other difficulties for caregivers. This study aims to identify the level of strain experienced by caregivers in the early months after stroke and to assess the relationship between caregiver strain and caregiver characteristics, patient characteristics, and service inputs.
Methods-Stroke patients were identified through a random stratified sample of general practices. Patients were asked to identify their principal informal caregiver. Strain was measured with the Caregiver Strain Index, and all data were collected from caregivers at 1, 3, and 6 months after the patient's stroke. Multiple regression analysis was used to examine the factors associated with caregiver strain.
Results-Six months after stroke, 37% of caregivers were experiencing considerable strain. The amount of time a caregiver spent helping a stroke patient, the amount of time the caregiver spent with the patient, and the caregiver's health were all significantly associated with the level of strain experienced. Although none of the services or patient factors tested in this study were consistently associated with strain, an indicator of stroke severity was significant at each time point.
Conclusions-Caregivers are experiencing strain, which has implications for research and service provision; Service providers need to identify caregivers at risk of greater strain and to help caregivers work through situations that services cannot alter. Research is needed to identify services that are effective in strain alleviation. Future research should also aim to identify the interface between patient characteristics and strain, burden, and depression and particularly to assess the caregiver's perception of these relationships.
The authors are grateful to Ayrshire and Arran Health Board, Scotland, for funding the study. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the funding body. We are grateful to Dr Drew Walker for his comments and support during the study.
- stroke management
- HEALTH SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE
- HOSPITAL ADMISSION