Informal caregivers in stroke: Life impact, support, and psychological well-being—A Swedish Stroke Register (Riksstroke) study

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Abstract

Background: Informal caregivers provide a large amount of day-to-day assistance and are crucial for the ability of survivors to recover and adapt to life after stroke. Aim: The development of caregiver support programs is limited by lack of large long-term follow-up studies. We present a comprehensive study of Swedish stroke caregivers' life situation in relation to degree of functional dependency of the survivor. Patients and methods: In 2016, the Swedish Stroke Register, Riksstroke, conducted a long-term follow-up survey on caregivers to patients with stroke three and five years earlier. Items on psychological well-being were adapted from the 36-item short-form health survey and poor outcome was defined using the 36-item short-form health survey reference material. Survivor degree of dependency was indicated by the caregiver as independent, partially dependent, or completely dependent. Results: A total of 5063 community dwelling dyads were included: 56.5% of survivors were independent, 33.4% partially dependent, and 10.1% completely dependent. Caregiver life impact, need of support, and proportion of poor psychological well-being increased incrementally with survivor degree of dependency. In the completely dependent group where 41.1% of survivors could not be left unattended for more than 1 h, 23.7% of caregivers expressed unmet need of caregiver support; 51.4% reported poor psychological well-being compared to 19.3% in the independent group. Conclusion: The caregiver situation varies greatly with degree of survivor dependency which makes generalizations of caregiver needs difficult. Our results emphasize the need for integrating support aimed specifically at caregivers to survivors of stroke with a large degree of dependency.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences

Keywords

  • caregiver, long-term, psychological well-being, Stroke, support
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Jun 25
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes