Predictors of life situation among significant others of depressed or aphasic stroke patients

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Abstract

Aim

The aim of this study was to examine predictors of the life situation of the significant other of depressed or aphasic stroke patients.

Background

Depression and aphasia are common consequences of stroke, and both may put pressure on the significant other who have to deal not only with a possible physical handicap but also with communication and/or serious psychiatric difficulties.

Design

Descriptive, cross-sectional study.

Methods

The participants were significant others of 71 depressed and 77 aphasic stroke patients. Depression was diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, and degree of aphasia was diagnosed with the Amsterdam Nijmegen Everyday Language Test. Assessments of the life situation, state of depression and aggression, personality change and need of assistance were made through questionnaires issued to the significant others.

Results

Perceived need of assistance was the only common predictor of life situation of the significant other in both groups (p < 0·001). With respect to the aphasic patients, perceived personality change (p < 0·001) and living with the patient (p = 0·004) were factors that had a negative effect on the life situation of the significant other.

Conclusions

This study highlights that the perception of the patient's need of assistance is an important factor in predicting the life situation among spouses of depressed as well as aphasic stroke patients. A comparison of the two groups to explain the life situation of the significant others revealed greater explanatory power for the aphasic group.

Relevance to clinical practice

Assessments of the spouses' perception as well as of the patients' factual situation may identify those significant others at risk. With this new approach, necessary steps may be taken to alleviate pressure on the significant other.

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