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COVID-19, family caregiver, quality of life, stroke, technology



  1. Miller, Elaine T.
  2. Stacy, Kelly E.
  3. Bakas, Tamilyn


ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Stroke family caregivers were already struggling with unmet needs and changes in their own lives from providing care. The COVID-19 pandemic added further stress and disruption to their lives. The purpose of this study was to describe life changes in 17 stroke family caregivers specifically resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: This study was conducted as a secondary data analysis from an ongoing randomized controlled clinical trial testing feasibility of the Telehealth Assessment and Skill-Building Kit (TASK III). Using a multimethod design, both quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed to determine caregiver life changes. Quantitative ratings regarding life changes were obtained using 17 items adapted specifically for COVID-19 from the Bakas Caregiving Outcomes Scale. Rigorous content analysis procedures for the qualitative data were guided by a start list of codes based on the 17 items, with additional themes possible. Representative quotes were selected based on author consensus. RESULTS: Findings revealed both negative and positive life changes from the COVID-19 pandemic. Negative life changes included such things as disrupted daily routines, limited access to healthcare providers and resources (eg, food, masks, hand sanitizers), reduced family and social contact and activities, decreased emotional well-being, and problems with performing caregiving activities for the survivor. Positive life changes were increased use of the Internet and videoconferencing, closer relationships with friends, and learning how to access needed resources in new ways. CONCLUSION: Stroke family caregivers experienced both negative and positive life changes specifically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Responses further indicated that COVID-19 affected most caregivers in different ways and an individualized approach is needed in dealing with caregiver life changes.