Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Caring For Stroke Survivors Sometimes Stressful, But Also Rewarding

Date:
April 30, 2009
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
While caring for stroke survivors can be highly stressful, many families feel little strain from caregiving. Many caregivers reported benefits from their roles; most reported a new appreciation for life. Patients' problems with mood, memory and physical care were the most stressful issues for caregivers.

While caring for stroke survivors can be highly stressful for some families, many families feel little or no strain from caregiving, and even report that being a caregiver can be personally rewarding, according to research published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a study of 75 stroke caregivers:

  • 90 percent reported that caregiving enabled them to appreciate life more;
  • 44 percent reported “no strain;” and
  • 41 percent reported “some strain.” Furthermore, average depression scores were well below depressive symptom levels typically reported in similar studies recruited from clinical settings, researchers said.

The findings came from a population-based study of the stroke care experience that the authors said includes caregivers who may be coping well and who may not seek out professional assistance.

“Epidemiologically based studies of stroke caregiving provide a unique picture of caregiver strains and benefits compared with clinical studies, which tend to over-represent more impaired patients,” said William E. Haley, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor at the School of Aging Studies of the University of South Florida, Tampa.

Researchers studied 75 people caring for stroke survivors enrolled in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, an epidemiologic investigation of stroke incidence and mortality including a large, racially diverse national sample of adults over age 45. They gathered caregiver reports of the prevalence and stressfulness of patient impairments through an ancillary project, the Caring for Adults Recovering from the Effects of Stroke (CARES) study. Both REGARDS and CARES are based at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Among the caregivers in the study:

  • The average age was 64; 79 percent were female and 21 percent male.
  • Fifty-six percent were white and 44 percent African American.
  • About half (53 percent) were spouses of the survivor, while 31 percent were the survivor’s child and 16 percent were another relation.
  • They provided an average of 36.9 hours of care per week.

Among the patients, 85 percent had suffered ischemic strokes (caused by blocked arteries) and 15 percent had survived hemorrhagic strokes (caused by bleeding in the brain).

For the study, the caregivers completed a comprehensive telephone interview eight to 12 months after the strokes and researchers measured caregiver appraisals of the stressfulness of patient problems and perceived benefits of caregiving.

While 82 percent of caregivers reported their stroke patient having at least one problem, no individual problem was cited by 50 percent or more of caregivers. Caregivers rated patients’ problems with mood (depression, loneliness and anxiety), memory, and physical care (dressing and bowel control) as their most stressful issues. But the reported prevalence of these formidable problems “was lower than those reported previously in studies using clinical samples,” Haley said.

Care providers also reported an average of nine benefits from their efforts including increasing their appreciation of life, “feeling needed” and “developing a more positive attitude toward life.”

Most research on problems faced by stroke caregivers comes from patients selectively recruited through clinical settings, Haley said.

“These patient samples and their caregivers likely have greater impairment and distress than those not seeking care and include very few ethnic minority participants, even though African Americans have higher rates of stroke than whites.” In addition, Haley said that “the results show that, even in the face of challenging caregiving roles, many families are resilient and find personal benefit and meaning from providing assistance to a loved one.”

This is the first epidemiologically based study to identify the most common stroke-related problems reported by caregivers. The study’s limitations include its relatively small sample size and lack of representation from other minority groups.

“Support for caregivers should include interventions to aid their coping with highly stressful mood, physical care and cognitive problems of stroke patients, but should also attend to perceived benefits of caregiving,” Haley said.

Co-authors are Jessica Y. Allen, B.A.; Joan S. Grant, D.S.N.; Olivio J. Clay, Ph.D.; Martinique Perkins, M.A.; and David Roth, Ph.D.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke funded the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Caring For Stroke Survivors Sometimes Stressful, But Also Rewarding." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090430161228.htm>.
American Heart Association. (2009, April 30). Caring For Stroke Survivors Sometimes Stressful, But Also Rewarding. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090430161228.htm
American Heart Association. "Caring For Stroke Survivors Sometimes Stressful, But Also Rewarding." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090430161228.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins