• evidence-based practice;
  • family care;
  • nurse education;
  • quality of life;
  • randomized controlled trials;
  • stroke

Aims and objectives.  The aim of the present study was to determine the impact of a nurse-led support and education programme for improving the spouses’ perceived general quality of life, life situation, general well-being and health state.

Background.  Stroke is a disease with great consequences for the patients and their families. The spouses often feel obligated to care for the patient, providing psychological and physical support and having to cope with the patient's physical and cognitive impairments. This might lead to increased problems, as family members struggle to adapt to their new roles and responsibilities.

Design and methods.  Longitudinal, randomized controlled trial. One hundred spouses were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups, 50 in each group. The intervention group participated in a support and education programme, six times during six months, led by stroke specialist nurses. Both groups were followed for 12 months.

Results.  No significant differences were found, between intervention and control groups, over time. In the sub analyses, we found that the group attending 5–6 times had a significant decrease in negative well-being and increased quality of life over time, while the group attending fewer times had a significant decrease in positive well-being and health state, similar to the control group, which also had a significant decrease in negative and general well-being.

Conclusions.  A support and education programme might have a positive effect on spouses’ well-being, on condition that they attend at least five times.

Relevance to clinical practice.  To facilitate the spouses’ role as informal caregivers to the stroke patients, further development of the support and education programme used in the present study is needed, including empowerment approach and implementation of coping strategies.