Introduction: Among the estimated 22.5 million stroke survivors in China, 78% of them require home care. Previous research has indicated that culture can have a significant impact on caregivers’ perceptions of the caregiving role. There is a dearth of research on stroke caregivers’ perceptions within the Chinese culture.
Objective: To explore how Chinese culture influences the perceptions of the caregiving role among stroke caregivers.
Methods: In this qualitative descriptive study, 14 stroke caregivers were recruited from a 1800-bed regional hospital in China. Caregivers were on average 58 years old (range 46-74), 78% female, 50% spouse-caregivers and 50% children-caregivers. Caregivers spent on average 14 hours per day (range 5-24) providing care. All were 1st time caregivers who had provided stroke caregiving < 12 months. Individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted. Qualitative content analysis was performed. Strategies to achieve trustworthiness include triangulation of the data in the analysis process, member checking and peer debriefing.
Results: Three themes emerged from the interviews. (1) Caregiving is a natural expected part of life. All caregivers accepted caregiving for the sick family member as an expected part of life. This perception is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. (2) Caregiving is a culturally prescribed obligation. Spouse caregivers believe that it is their moral obligation to take care of their sick life partner. Female caregivers emphasized their position and role in the family to take up caregiving for sick relative. (3) Caregiving is an expression of reciprocal love within the immediate family. Tangible caregiving and support during adversity are viewed as expression of reciprocal love among family members. Particularly, the children-caregivers believed in the virtue of filial piety and perceived stroke caregiving as a means of repaying their parents.
Conclusions: Our findings highlight an underlying acceptance and devotion of undertaking stroke caregiving within the Chinese culture. Researchers and clinicians that plan to develop an intervention to support Chinese stroke caregivers need to consider integrating these findings.