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caregivers, depressive symptoms, health status, longitudinal study, stroke



  1. Chung, Misook L. PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA
  2. Lee, Suk Jeong PhD, RN
  3. Son, Youn-Jung PhD, RN, CCAPN
  4. Miller, Jennifer L. PhD, RN
  5. King, Rosemarie B. PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA


Background: The purpose of this study was to identify patterns of depressive symptom trajectory and examine the associations of the symptom trajectory with caregiving burden, family function, social support, and perceived health status of caregivers of stroke survivors during the first year of caregiving after discharge from rehabilitation center.


Methods: Caregivers of stroke survivors completed a survey of depressive symptoms, caregiving burden, family function, perceived availability of social support, and perceived health status at postdischarge and 1 year. Patterns of depressive symptom trajectory (ie, symptom-free, symptom relieved, symptom developed, and persistent symptom groups) were identified by grouping depressive symptoms based on 2 assessments using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression. Repeated-measures analysis of variance and multinomial logistic regression were used to examine the associations.


Results: Of the 102 caregivers, 57.8% were symptom-free, 20.6% experienced persistent depressive symptoms, 11.8% relieved depressive symptoms, and 9.8% developed depressive symptoms. There were significant changes in family function (Wilks [lambda] = 0.914, P = .038) and perceived health status (Wilks [lambda] = 0.914, P = .033) among the groups during the first year of caregiving. The persistent symptom group reported the highest level of burden and the lowest level of family function and perceived availability of social support at both assessment times. Compared with symptom-free caregivers, caregivers with persistent depressive symptoms were 7 times more likely to have fair/poor health rather than excellent/very good health at 1 year (odds ratio, 7.149; P = .012).


Conclusion: Caregivers with persistent depressive symptoms are the most vulnerable to negative psychosocial outcomes and poor perceived health status during the first year of caregiving from discharge for stroke survivors.