Post-Stroke: What Makes Family Caregivers Happy?

Jill Cameron, PhD M.Ed., B.Sc. O.T CIHR New Investigator, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Adjunct Scientist, UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation InstituteMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jill Cameron, PhD
CIHR New Investigator, Associate Professor,
Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Adjunct Scientist, UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Cameron: In our study with 399 stroke survivor, caregiver dyads, caregivers reported more psychological wellbeing when they provided more assistance to stroke survivors who had fewer symptoms of depression, better cognitive functioning, and who had more severe strokes.  In addition, caregivers who maintained participation in valued activities, had more mastery, gained personally providing care, were in better physical health, and were older reported more psychological wellbeing.


MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Cameron: Our finding that more severe stroke was associated with better psychological wellbeing was not expected. This may relate to patients’ and families’ expectations when someone experiences a “mild” stroke. Patients not able to resume “normal” activities or who experience unresolved issues after stroke, may have a negative impact on patients and their caregivers.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Cameron: Clinicians should be aware that patients and family members may struggle even when patients have experienced a mild stroke. Caregivers who are younger may experience more difficulty in the caregiving role than older individuals. In addition, it is important for caregivers to participate in valued activities and interests when caring for a family member as this has positive consequences for their emotional wellbeing. They will also benefit if they are able to personally benefit from providing care – for example, becoming aware of their inner strengths as a result of providing care.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Cameron: Future research should continue to understand the influence of stroke severity on caregiver wellbeing. In addition, interventions aimed at assisting caregivers to maintain participation in valued activities and interests while providing care has the potential to benefit caregiver emotional wellbeing and may contribute to the sustainability of the caregiving situation.

Citation:

What Makes Family Caregivers Happy During the First Two Years Post-Stroke?

Stroke. 2014;45:1084-1089, published online before print March 20 2014, doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.004309

STROKE/2013/004309 R1