For stroke survivors and their caregivers, feelings of self-esteem, optimism and “being in control” affect the other person’s levels of depression — and they should be treated together, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.
Depression is common in stroke survivors and in their spouse caregivers, noted the researchers. The interdependent relationship among the pair in stroke rehabilitation means that improving depression may depend on each partner’s characteristics.
For the study, researchers analyzed 112 depressed stroke survivors and their spouses up to 8 weeks after leaving the hospital and found that self-esteem and optimism influenced each partners’ depression.
“We usually have been focused on the outcome of the stroke survivor, but we found that the self-esteem and optimism of the spouse caretaker is related to the patient’s depression,” said Misook Chung, Ph.D., R.N., study author and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing.
“When the spouse has a high level of self-esteem and optimism, the patient has lower levels of depression.”
The impact of spouses on patients’ depression has been often ignored, said Chung. “This is an innovative and early analysis that considers the stroke patients and their caretaker spouses as a unit, not individually.”
Researchers recruited the study participants from four hospitals in Indianapolis. The patients were 66 percent men (average 62 years) and their caregivers were 66 percent women (average 60 years).
Researchers used four different questionnaires to assess depression, self-esteem, optimism and perceived control: Patient’s Health Questionnaire, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Sale, Revised Life Orientation Test, and Sense of Control Scale.
“Intervention needs to be given not only to the patient but to the caregiver spouse to maximize the patient’s outcome,” Chung said. “Maintaining an optimistic and positive view is very important not only for the patient but for the caregiver spouse so that quality of care for the patient can be improved.”
Source: American Heart Association