Stroke Caregiver Depressive Symptoms Vary by Ethnicity Interview with:
Nenette M. Jessup MPH, CCRP
Research Associate/Project Manager TASK II
Indiana University School of Nursing
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Jessup: Similar to others, we found that females and non-African American caregivers experienced more depressive symptoms and females perceived greater task difficulty. Because female caregivers comprise the largest group of caregivers in the United States, the consistency of this finding has implications for continued social policy efforts to improve their plight. However, our results also suggested an interaction effect between race and type of relationship, with African American spouses experiencing the most difficulty with tasks of caregiving. Inconsistencies in the existing literature about this finding signal the need for a greater understanding of group differences. Individualized interventions may also be of benefit for stroke caregivers.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Jessup: One unexpected finding was that the African American spouses in our sample had the highest depressive symptom scores, even though as a whole the African American stroke caregivers experienced fewer depressive symptoms than non-African Americans. Not only is there a need for more research on group differences, this finding also emphasizes the need for greater attention and further exploration of individual differences among caregivers.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Jessup: Regardless of gender, race, or type of relationship the stroke caregivers in this study commonly experienced the most difficulty with the tasks of household maintenance, managing finances, transportation, giving emotional support to the stroke survivor, and managing survivor behavior problems. Moreover, regarding life changes, the caregivers were most concerned with changes in their own social and family time, financial well-being, level of energy, and their own emotions. The importance of taking care of the caregiver should be emphasized and suggestions such as support groups, time for their own activities and health are equally important to be able to sustain caregiving activities over time.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Jessup: As a result of this study, we recommend future development of stroke caregiver interventions that are sensitive to the caregiver’s culture, gender, and relationship to the stroke survivor. Additional research to explore the role of family, managing emotions, and depressive symptoms in stroke caregivers may provide additional insight into cultural variations. Finally, further investigation of underlying factors that lead to the more positive experiences of male and African American stroke caregivers is recommended


Are there gender, racial or relationship differences in caregiver task difficulty, depressive symptoms and life changes among stroke family caregivers?

Jessup NM1, Bakas T, McLennon SM, Weaver MT.
Brain Inj. 2014 Aug 20:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]