Long-term impact of stroke on family caregiver well-being: a population-based case-control study

Neurology. 2015 Mar 31;84(13):1323-9. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001418. Epub 2015 Mar 4.


Objective: Three-year changes in well-being were studied among family caregivers of an epidemiologically derived sample of stroke survivors from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study and compared to matched noncaregivers.

Methods: Family caregivers of REGARDS participants who experienced a stroke event completed telephone interviews assessing depressive symptoms, mental and physical health quality of life (QOL), life satisfaction, and leisure satisfaction at approximately 9, 18, 27, and 36 months after the stroke (n = 235). For each stroke caregiver, a family member of a stroke-free REGARDS participant was enrolled as a matched noncaregiving control (n = 235) and completed similar interviews.

Results: Multilevel longitudinal models found that caregivers showed poorer well-being at 9 months poststroke than controls on all measures except physical health QOL. Significant differences were sustained for 22 months after the stroke event for depressive symptoms, 31 months for mental health QOL, and 15 months for life satisfaction. For leisure satisfaction, differences were still significant at 36 months poststroke. Caregiving effects were similar across race and sex.

Conclusions: Stroke caregiving is associated with persistent psychological distress, but life satisfaction, depression, and mental health QOL became comparable to noncaregivers by 3 years after stroke. Caregiver leisure satisfaction was chronically lower than in noncaregivers. Intervention for stroke caregivers should recognize both the strains faced by caregivers and their capacity for successful coping over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Quality of Life
  • Stroke / nursing*
  • Survivors