The impact of stroke on informal carers: a literature review

Soc Sci Med. 1999 Sep;49(6):711-25. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(99)00194-x.


Stroke incidence is set to rise in Western societies as population projections predict an increase in the proportion of older people. Most of these stroke survivors are supported by close kin members who play an important role in the rehabilitation and care of this group. The objective of this review was to establish the following: (a) to evaluate the impact of the stroke on the informal carers' quality of life, (b) to identify factors which help carers to cope with their caring role, (c) to evaluate health service provision for stroke carers. A systematic literature search using BIDS-EMBASE, MEDLINE and PSYCHLIT, identified 31 relevant studies. These showed that most studies concentrated on carers' psychological health and the negative impact that the stroke had. Carers ability to cope with the stroke was enhanced both by the use of positive coping strategies and more concrete measures e.g. more stroke information. Furthermore, whilst most carers were generally satisfied with health services, the few interventions directed at improving carer outcomes showed mixed results. The studies reviewed had many limitations; few gave definitions of 'informal' carer and there was a predominant use of cross-sectional studies and non-standardised outcome measures. Future studies should broaden their research question to evaluate quality of life, using standardised measures to do this and employing either a longitudinal or randomised control design to improve the robustness of results. More studies are also needed evaluating the effectiveness of health services on carers' quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Health Services / standards
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Research Design / standards
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stroke / psychology*