Caregivers’ emotional well-being and their capacity to learn about stroke


Dr V. Braithwaite, Senior Research Fellow, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University, CPO Box 4, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia.


This study examines the effects of distress on the capacity of informal caregivers of stroke patients to absorb information about stroke and caregiving. Thirty-seven caregivers took part in a stroke seminar. Minor psychiatric symptoms were related to caregivers’ knowledge prior to the seminar, with the more emotionally distressed being the least knowledgeable. The emotional state of the caregivers, however, did not affect how much they learnt. Knowledge after the seminar was best predicted from pre-seminar knowledge and age. Older caregivers were less well-informed afterwards, although they did not differ significantly from younger caregivers in their scores initially. These findings do not discount the possibility that emotional carers are too shocked to take in information from hospital staff at the time of admission. The data do demonstrate that, given time to accept the caregiving role, emotional carers are receptive to learning about stroke and the stroke patient's needs.