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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

The caregiving relationship and quality of life among partners of stroke survivors: A cross-sectional study

Christine J McPherson1*, Keith G Wilson234, Livia Chyurlia2 and Charles Leclerc23

Author Affiliations

1 School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, 451, Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 8M5, Canada

2 School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, 200 Lees Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada

3 The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, 505 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, ON K1H 8M2, Canada

4 Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 451, Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 8M5, Canada

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2011, 9:29  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-9-29

Published: 9 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Since the majority of stroke survivors return home following their stroke, families play a pivotal role in their care. Few studies have addressed both positive and negative aspects of this role or the broader construct of health-related quality of life (HRQL). Furthermore, little consideration has been given to the context of care in terms of relationship quality, and reciprocity. The present study examined the relationships between caregiver quality of life (HRQL), caregiver role, relationship satisfaction, balance and reciprocity in caregivers of partners who had experienced a stroke. Specific hypotheses were made based on equity theory in social relations.

Methods

Fifty-six partner caregivers completed a postal survey that included measures of HRQL (SF-36), caregiver role (negative and positive aspects), relationship satisfaction, reciprocity and balance. Data were also collected on the care recipients' quality of life (Stroke Specific Quality of Life scale).

Results

Compared to a normative sample, caregivers' HRQL was lower for all SF-36 domains. Care recipient and caregiver age, care recipient quality of life and caregiver role (negative) significantly predicted physical component summary scores on the SF-36, while care recipient quality of life and caregiver role (negative) significantly correlated with mental component summary scores. Relationship satisfaction and intrinsic rewards of caregiving were found to be important predictors of positive aspects of the caregiver role. Caregivers who viewed their relationship as less balanced in terms of give and take had significantly greater caregiver burden than those who viewed their relationship as more equitable.

Conclusions

The study highlights the importance of taking a broader approach to examining partner caregiving in the context of stroke, in terms of the caregiving relationship and their influence on the health and well-being of caregivers.

Keywords:
Stroke; caregiving; quality of life; reciprocity; family; burden