Purpose: Emotional vitality may play an important role in determining whether informal caregivers are able to successfully adopt and persist in their roles. This study describes a content validation of a conceptual model of emotional vitality in informal caregivers.
Methods: A secondary content analysis was performed on transcripts of 30 caregivers who were interviewed about their quality of life in relation to assuming the role of informal caregiver for a family member who had experienced a recent stroke. Caregivers discussed changes in their own health, relationships, roles, finances, participation, and mood after assuming the caregiving role. Using a thematic inductive approach, two raters independently coded the presence and frequency of physical, emotional, and social impacts associated with the caregiving role in order to further develop and validate a conceptual model of caregiver emotional vitality.
Results: The interviews provided information that affirmed the relevance of four themes relevant to caregiver emotional vitality previously identified: physical health and well-being; mood regulation; sense of control/mastery of new skills; and participation in meaningful activity. An additional theme of support and recognition from others also emerged.
Conclusions: Adopting the informal caregiving role results in major impacts to the caregiver's physical, emotional, and social health. Five core domains appear to meaningfully contribute to emotional vitality of caregivers and may influence their ability to persist in this role over time. Many of the factors that influence emotional vitality in caregivers are potentially modifiable. This new model offers new opportunities for rehabilitation specialists and allied health professionals to develop skill-building interventions that may help caregivers successfully adapt and thrive in the caregiving role.