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caregivers, family, stroke



  1. Clark, Patricia C.
  2. Dunbar, Sandra B.
  3. Shields, Cleveland G.
  4. Viswanathan, Bindu
  5. Aycock, Dawn M.
  6. Wolf, Steven L.


Background: Stroke recovery is a dynamic process for stroke survivors, and shorter lengths of stay in healthcare settings shift the care of the survivors to family caregivers. The physical and mental sequelae after stroke and the family's response to this catastrophic event may have deleterious effects on caregivers.


Objective: To examine the influence of stroke survivors' motor function, their memory and behavior changes, and the family conflict surrounding stroke recovery on the mental and physical health of caregivers during the subacute recovery period.


Methods: This cross-sectional, correlational study used baseline data from family caregivers (n = 132) and first-time stroke survivors enrolled in a larger multisite study.


Results: The caregivers were primarily White (71%), female (74%), college-educated (73%) spouses (80%) of survivors. Most of the caregivers (66%) reported family conflict. The caregivers from families with lower family functioning scores reported worse mental health.The caregivers reported lower mental health when they were caring for stroke survivors with a combination of high memory/behavior changes and low motor function (R2 =.30). Family conflict appears to exacerbate the impact of memory and behavior changes on caregiver mental health. Higher caregiver education and no major health problems were associated with better caregiver physical health (R2 =.36). Caregiver physical health was not associated with family functioning or stroke survivor memory and behavior changes.


Conclusions: These results indicate that memory and behavior changes of stroke survivors and family conflict surrounding stroke recovery are important considerations for assessment during the poststroke recovery period.