Social support, social problem-solving abilities, and adjustment of family caregivers of stroke survivors

Joan S Grant, Timothy R Elliott, Michael Weaver, Gerald L Glandon, James L Raper, Joyce N Giger
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2006, 87 (3): 343-50

OBJECTIVE: To determine contributions of social support and social problem-solving abilities in prediction of adjustment of family caregivers of stroke survivors.

DESIGN: Descriptive.

SETTING: Two rehabilitation facilities (1 private, 1 state) in the southeastern United States.

PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-two family caregivers (46 women, 6 men) of stroke survivors (28 women, 24 men).

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Predictor variables were social support and social problem-solving abilities. Outcome measures of caregiver adjustment were depressive symptomatology, well-being, and general health. Participants completed these measures 1 to 2 days before discharge from inpatient rehabilitation and at 5, 9, and 13 weeks postdischarge in the home.

RESULTS: Trajectory analysis indicated higher levels of social support were associated with lower levels of caregiver depressive symptomatology and higher levels of well-being and general health, independent of social problem solving. A greater negative problem orientation was associated with higher levels of depressive symptomatology and lower levels of well-being. A more positive problem orientation was associated with greater increases in general health. The strength or slope of this positive relation lessened over time.

CONCLUSIONS: Social support and the emotion-focused component of social problem solving, problem orientation, independently contribute to caregiver adjustment. Interventions that provide social support and assist caregivers to develop more adaptive abilities toward problem solving may be beneficial.

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