Indexed on: 03 Apr '19Published on: 02 Apr '19Published in: Topics in stroke rehabilitation
Caregivers of stroke survivors often suffer depressive symptoms that interfere with their own health. Early recognition may lead to attenuation of symptoms and better health and well-being for caregivers. We examined characteristics of caregivers and stroke survivors associated with caregivers' depressive symptoms in the early poststroke period. We conducted a prospective, longitudinal exploratory observational study with a convenience sample of 63 caregivers of older adult (≥ 65 years) stroke survivors recruited from urban acute-care settings. We enrolled caregivers by 2 weeks poststroke (T1) and revisited them 4 weeks later (T2). Depressive symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. A separate unadjusted linear mixed model was computed to explore significant associations between each caregiver or stroke-survivor characteristic and depressive symptoms. Caregivers, on average, reported mild depressive symptoms at T1 and T2. Each of the following characteristics was independently associated with caregiver depressive symptoms over the first 6 weeks poststroke: caregiver uncertainty (p < 0.001), perceived stress (p < 0.001) but not cortisol levels (p = 0.858 on waking, p = 0.231 evening), coping (p < 0.001), social support (p = 0.006), race (p = 0.022), income (p = 0.001), time spent on care (p = 0.039), and stroke-survivor race (p = 0.033) and functional status (p = 0.003). At T2, caregiver depressive symptoms were correlated with evening cortisol level (p = 0.001). Caregiver and stroke-survivor characteristics may help identify caregivers at highest risk for early depressive symptoms and guide interventions aimed at their resolution.