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Keywords:

  • caregivers;
  • coping strategies;
  • depression;
  • hospitalisation;
  • nursing;
  • stroke

Aims and objectives.  The main aim of this study was to identify the coping strategies of stroke caregivers, to identify the factors associated with caregivers’ depression and to identify predictors of caregivers’ depression.

Background.  Stroke has a high incidence in China. Most stroke survivors are accompanied by family caregivers during hospitalisation. However, little is known about these informal caregivers’ coping strategies to the consequences brought on by stroke and their depressive symptoms.

Method.  A correlation and cross-sectional design was used and a purposive sample of 92 stroke survivors and their caregivers completed the questionnaires, which were used to describe the demographic of both the caregiver and stroke survivor, coping strategies (the Brief COPE Inventory) and depression of caregivers (the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale). Spearman's correlation and multiple stepwise regression analysis were used in data analyses.

Results.  Several coping strategies (planning, positive reframing, acceptance, active coping, use of instrumental support and humour) were most commonly used by stroke caregivers. The length of hospital stay, stroke survivor's cognitive status and functional status, family income and coping strategies such as (i) denial, (ii) self-blame, (iii) planning and (iv) religion had significant correlations with caregiver's depression. The best predictors of caregiver's depression were denial, planning and stroke survivor's functional status.

Conclusions.  This study contributes to our knowledge about the coping strategies and depression level of stroke caregivers on the Chinese mainland. The depression rate is very high during hospitalisation, although these caregivers often had positive coping responses to the stroke event. Many factors were associated with caregivers’ depression.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nurses should not only pay attention to stroke survivors but also to their caregivers. To help them adjust well from the stroke consequences and avoid depression, nurses should implement effective interventions.