Task Difficulty, Depression, and Life Changes in Family Caregivers of Stroke Survivors
Background/Purpose: Over 39% of stroke caregivers suffer from depression. Little is known about the specific caregiving tasks that are associated with depression or the life changes that stroke caregivers experience while providing care. The purpose of this study is to describe the relationships between task difficulty, depression, and life changes in family caregivers of stroke survivors. Methods: As part of a larger study of quality of life in stroke survivors, 32 family caregivers self-completed questionnaires containing the Caregiving Burden Scale (CBS), Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and the Bakas Caregiving Outcomes Scale (BCOS) with alpha reliabilities ranging from .74 to .96. Relationships between variables were analyzed with Pearson r. A majority of the caregivers were female (94%), with 69% spouses and 31% adult children. African Americans comprised 10% of the sample with 87% Caucasians and 3% from other ethnic backgrounds. A majority of the caregivers were providing care 1 to 6 months following the stroke (97%). Results: Preliminary results indicate that depression and task difficulty were strongly correlated (r = .67, p<.001), as were depression and negative life changes (r = .72, p<.001). Task difficulty and negative life changes were also strongly correlated (r = .72, p<.001). Based on comparison of CBS item means, the most difficult tasks for caregivers were behavioral management (moodiness, irritability, confusion, memory loss, etc.) and providing emotional support. Based on comparison of the BCOS item means, the most negative life changes were decreased time for family and friends. Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest the need for intervention development in the areas of behavioral management, emotional support, and respite for family caregivers of stroke survivors. Educating family caregivers about effective communication strategies and cognitive behavioral techniques to use in dealing with the stroke survivor are potential areas for future study. Because data collection is still in progress, findings from a larger sample will be presented.