Measures of psychological stress and physical health in family caregivers of stroke survivors: a literature review

J Neurosci Nurs. 2010 Jun;42(3):128-38. doi: 10.1097/jnn.0b013e3181d4a3ee.


Studies have demonstrated that the stress of family caregiving places caregivers at risk for developing depression, poor quality of life, and health problems. The purpose of this review was to identify the ways in which variables are operationalized in studies addressing psychological stressors and physical health of family caregivers of stroke survivors. The adapted Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center model provides the organizing conceptual framework for this literature review. A literature search for relevant articles was conducted using Ovid Medline, PsycINFO, and Ovid Nursing Database for the period of July 1999 through June 2009 using the following search terms: caregiver (or family caregiver), stroke, stress, and health. Articles were included if they met the following inclusionary criteria: (a) written in English, (b) published in peer-reviewed journal, (c) focused on adults who were caring for an adult who experienced stroke, (d) included measures of stress and physical health or health-related quality of life, and (e) primarily used quantitative research methods. Twenty-four articles were identified that met the inclusion criteria. Findings related to the variables included in the adapted Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center model are discussed. Variables were not well defined, a wide array of measurement instruments were used, and measures were taken at broadly divergent time frames following stroke. Future research guided by a theoretical framework, consistent measures of variables, and standardized measurement time points would allow for better comparison of findings across studies, thus enabling clinicians to better understand the health risks of family caregivers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Caregivers / education
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Cost of Illness
  • Family / psychology*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nursing Assessment / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stroke* / nursing
  • Stroke* / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data