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The stroke caregiving trajectory in relation to caregiver depressive symptoms, burden, and intervention outcomes.

Graf R, LeLaurin J, Schmitzberger M, Freytes IM, Orozco T, Dang S, Uphold CR. The stroke caregiving trajectory in relation to caregiver depressive symptoms, burden, and intervention outcomes. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation. 2017 Oct 1; 24(7):488-495.

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BACKGROUND: Caregiver depression and burden have a detrimental effect on stroke survivors'' rehabilitation and are contributors to stroke survivors'' hospital readmission and institutionalization. The stroke caregiving trajectory is unique compared to other illnesses, and the effect of length of caregiving on stroke caregiver outcomes is poorly understood. Interventions can improve caregiver outcomes, but the optimal timing of these interventions is unclear. OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine the relationship between: (1) length of caregiving and stroke caregiver depressive symptoms and burden, and (2) length of caregiving and amount of change in depressive symptoms and burden following the Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers'' Understanding and Empowerment (RESCUE) intervention - an online and telephone problem-solving, education, and support intervention. METHODS: We analyzed retrospective data collected from 72 stroke caregivers who participated in the RESCUE intervention. Outcomes were caregiver depressive symptoms and burden. Data were analyzed using mixed-effects regression analysis. RESULTS: Baseline depressive symptoms and burden were both negatively related to length of caregiving (p  <  0.05). We found significant improvement in caregiver depressive symptoms and burden following an intervention. The interaction between changes in outcomes and length of caregiving was not significant for either depressive symptoms (p  =  0.26) or burden (p  =  0.10). CONCLUSIONS: This study contributes to the understanding of the relationship between length of caregiving and depression, burden, and intervention outcomes. Clinicians should recognize that the stroke caregiving trajectory can be nonlinear. Routine and repeated clinical assessment of caregiver well-being is needed, along with implementation of interventions when necessary, regardless of how much time has passed since the stroke.

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