Background: Nurses play a critical role supporting informal caregivers of stroke patients and thus need evidence of best, client centered interventions. Although there is a growing literature evaluating interventions, there is a paucity of research that begins with and engages caregiver stakeholders in identifying interventions, especially with the use of mobile health technologies.
Research Question: What do stroke survivor informal caregivers want in a mobile application?
Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive study of informal stroke caregivers from a national convenience sample of the National Stroke Association database was conducted using a 17-item survey mailed to stroke survivors asking their caregivers to identify useful educational content/knowledge and resources. Descriptive statistics and logistic regressions were performed to analyze data and examine the relationships among demographic variables and caregiver needs.
Results: Of 396 respondents, 76% were female (mean age 59 years +/-13.3; range 20-99); 53%, Caucasian; 24%, African-American; 11%, Hispanic/Latino. A majority (76% to 81%) of respondents wanted information about scheduling tasks and appointments, local resources, internet resources, fitness and diet tracking, and tools for communication with the stroke survivor; 81% of respondents wanted information about support groups. Ninety-six percent of caregivers owned a cell phone; 60% of which were smart phones. As age increased, reported usefulness of the app decreased (p = 0.05). There were no significant differences related to gender, race/ethnicity, or whether or not the caregiver owned a smartphone.
Conclusion: Consistent responses across population groups suggest that nurses can use the findings to develop mobile applications for smartphone users, to use the content to develop written resource guides for discharge planning, and to customize care plans to support stroke caregivers with and without smartphones. Discharge plans for informal caregivers should include specific information about stroke survivor services, how to arrange healthcare appointments, educational materials about strokes, and guidance in best methods for communicating with the stroke survivor.