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Family Caregiver Expectations and Management of the Stroke Trajectory


  • Mary E. Burman PhD FNP CNS

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Mary E. Burman is an associate professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY.

School of Nursing, University of Wyoming, PO Box 3065, Laramie, WY 82071-3065, e-mail


Less than 20% of stroke survivors enter rehabilitation or long-term care facilities after their stroke. Stroke recovery is extremely variable and the resulting uncertainty places a heavy burden on the survivors' family caregivers. According to the trajectory framework, chronic conditions have a defined course that can be shaped and managed. This grounded theory study, part of a larger research project, explored the expectations of family caregivers of the stroke trajectory and their management strategies. Thirteen family caregivers of stroke patients in a sparsely populated area participated in semi-structured interviews. The caregivers were without ideas about what the recovery of their loved ones would be like and had difficulty making projections about the trajectory. They used several strategies, however, in attempts to manage the stroke trajectory. They constructed a positive recovery, reconstituted family life, maintained family routines, created a safety net, and redoubled self-reliance. The findings have implications for how nurses support family caregivers of stroke survivors.