JOURNAL ARTICLE

The association between discrepancy in illness representations on distress in stroke patients and carers

Maureen Twiddy, Allan House, Fiona Jones
Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2012, 72 (3): 220-5
22325702

BACKGROUND: To investigate the association between the illness representations of recently diagnosed stroke patients and their carers and distress in the months after stroke.

METHOD: Forty-two stroke survivors and their carers were assessed at 3 months and 32 couples returned data at 6 months after stroke. Patients and carers completed the Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-Revised, Barthel Index, Significant Others Scale and General Health Questionnaire. Analyses were conducted using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model.

RESULTS: Carers were more pessimistic than patients about the symptoms, timeline and consequences of the stroke. Patient distress was associated with both patient and carer illness representations at Time 1, and their own illness representations and discrepancy in the illness representations of patients and carers at Time 2. Carer distress was associated with their own illness representations at Time 1, but not the patient's illness representations. Discrepant illness representations were associated with higher carer distress at Time 1 but not Time 2.

CONCLUSION: Illness representations of stroke patients and carers have implications for adjustment for both partners. It is important to understand couples' views of stroke, as discrepancy was as strongly associated with patient and carer distress as was physical disability.

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