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Needs of family caregivers of stroke patients: a longitudinal study of caregivers’ perspectives

Authors Tsai P, Yip P, Tai JJ, Lou M

Received 18 November 2014

Accepted for publication 17 January 2015

Published 18 March 2015 Volume 2015:9 Pages 449—457


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Pei-Chun Tsai,1 Ping-Keung Yip,2 John Jen Tai,3 Meei-Fang Lou1

1School of Nursing, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, 2School of Medicine, 3Department of Statistics and Information Science, College of Management, Fu-Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Background: After a stroke, patients often suffer from varying degrees of disability that require acute inpatient treatment and extended care at home. Therefore, the caregivers assume multiple responsibilities that can result in stress, particularly when their own needs are inadequately addressed during the patient’s recovery.
Objectives: This study aimed to explore the changing needs of family caregivers of stroke patients and factors related to the needs in four stages, before the transfer from intensive care unit to neurological unit, before discharge, 2 weeks post-hospitalization, and 3 months post-hospitalization.
Methods: The design of this study was based on longitudinal research, and the participants were family caregivers of stroke patients. Sixty family caregivers were recruited in this study. Data were collected at four time points by questionnaire.
Results: We found that the total number of needs of family caregivers decreased as the illness duration increased and that needs differed significantly between the four time points (P<0.01). Although the needs were different in each stage, health information, professional support, and community networks were the leading need domains in all four stages. The major factors affecting the care needs of family caregivers were the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale scores of patients on admission, length of hospital stay, and physical dependence of patients.
Conclusion: Family caregivers expected to obtain assistance and related care information from professionals during the course of the disease. Assessing the needs of family caregivers is important for health care workers in understanding problems from the caregivers’ perspectives. Relevant information and counseling should be provided to family caregivers to help them access support when needed.

Keywords: chronic illness, family needs, transitional care

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