Effectiveness of a strength-oriented psychoeducation on caregiving competence, problem-solving abilities, psychosocial outcomes and physical health among family caregiver of stroke survivors: A randomised controlled trial

Ho Yu Cheng, Sek Ying Chair, Janita Pak Chun Chau
International Journal of Nursing Studies 2018, 87: 84-93

BACKGROUND: Family caregivers provide the foundation for long-term home care of stroke survivors. The overwhelming stress associated with caregiving hinders the ability of family caregivers to utilise their internal and external resources to cope with this situation, thereby placing their own health at risk. We conducted a randomised controlled trial of a strength-oriented psychoeducational programme on conventional stroke rehabilitation for family caregivers.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness of a strength-oriented psychoeducational programme on the caregiving competence, problem-solving coping abilities, caregiver's depressive symptoms, caregiving burden and resources (family functioning, social support) and physical health (such as caregiving-related injury), as well as potential placement of stroke survivors.

DESIGN: A prospective multi-centre and single-blinded randomised controlled trial stratified by survivors' history of stroke.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Adult stroke patients and their family caregivers were recruited from the medical wards of a regional acute and two rehabilitation hospitals in the Eastern New Territories of Hong Kong.

METHODS: The design of the trial was based on the relational/problem-solving model. Family caregivers of stroke survivors who had been admitted to the study hospitals completed a set of questionnaires before randomisation, immediately, one- and three-months post-intervention. The control group received usual care, whereas the intervention group received an additional 26-week strength-oriented psychoeducational programme (two structured individual face-to-face pre-discharge education sessions on stroke and its associated caregiving skills and six biweekly post-discharge telephone-based problem-solving coping skills training sessions). Data were analysed using the generalized estimating equation and multiple regression models and chi-square tests.

RESULTS: We recruited 128 caregiver-survivor dyads. The intervention group demonstrated significantly greater improvements throughout the study (p < 0.01) in terms of caregiving competence, problem-solving coping abilities and social support satisfaction. This group also displayed significantly greater improvements in terms of family functioning (p < 0.05) at one-month post-intervention, an increased number of social support (p < 0.001) and a lower level of burden at three-month post-intervention. However, there was no significant effect on enabling stroke survivors to remain in their home. Post-hoc analysis showed a significant and indirect effect of problem-solving coping abilities, which suggested its mediating effect on caregiving competence of stroke caregivers.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that incorporating a strength-oriented psychoeducational programme into the existing stroke rehabilitation protocol can foster a healthy transition to caregiving among family members of stroke survivors.

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