Background: Patients and their family caregivers collaborate to optimize patients’ recovery post-stroke. The literature suggests that stroke can negatively affect patient physical health and providing care can negatively affect caregiver wellbeing. We do not know how patient and caregiver health are linked. Therefore, the objective of this research was to examine the influence of patient, caregiver, and caregiving factors on patient and caregiver physical health.
Method: Secondary analysis of a longitudinal cohort study of survivors of their first stroke and their family caregivers (n=399 dyads). Participants completed standardized surveys 1, 3, 6, and 12-months post stroke. Patient data included demographic information, Canadian Neurological Scale, stroke type, stroke location, and the Mini Mental Status Exam. Caregivers provided demographic information and completed the Caregiver Assistance Scale, Mastery Scale, Brain Impairment Behaviour Inventory-revised, and Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Patients and caregivers completed the SF-36 and the physical component score was used in the analyses. Hierarchical Linear Modelling was used to test full regression models using the longitudinal data.
Results: Patients’ physical health was better when they were younger, had a milder stroke, fewer symptoms of depression, better cognitive health, and their caregiver had fewer symptoms of depression, provided less assistance, were female, and their spouse. Caregivers’ physical health was better when the stroke survivor had fewer memory problems, and caregivers had fewer symptoms of depression, were younger, and were male.
Conclusions: Patient and caregiver factors were associated with each other’s physical health during the first year post-stroke. Caregiver depression symptoms were associated with poor physical health in both the patient and the caregiver. This suggests programs to address caregivers experience of depression may benefit both patients and caregivers physical health.