• discharge planning;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • quality of care;
  • relative;
  • stroke

Aims.  To describe relatives’ perceived participation in discharge planning for patients with stroke and identify correlates to perceived participation.

Background.  Stroke affects both patients and their relatives and previous research shows that relatives were often dissatisfied with their perceived involvement in discharge planning and the information they get.

Design.  Prospective cross-sectional study.

Methods.  The study comprised 152 consecutively enrolled relatives (mean age = 60·8 years) of acute stroke patients admitted to a stroke unit in southern Sweden during 2003–2005. Data were collected through interviews 2–3 weeks after discharge using ‘Relative’s Questionnaire about Participation in Discharge planning’. This instrument measures perceived participation in three subscales: R–Information–Illness, R–Information–Care/support, and R–Goals and Needs. The Overall Rating of Relative’s Perceived Participation in Discharge Planning was measured by a visual analogue scale (VAS) (1–10 score).

Results.  Among the relatives, 56–68% reported positively according to R–Information–Illness, but 46–53% perceived that they did not receive any information about care/medication/rehabilitation/support. About 80% perceived no participation at all in goals and needs. The mean value of the VAS was 3·89 (SD 3·40) score. Regression analyses revealed that longer stay at hospital, patients with higher education, and relatives of female patients and female relatives were associated with relatives’ perceptions of higher participation in discharge planning.

Conclusions.  Relatives perceived that they needed more information and knowledge about stroke and care/medication/rehabilitation/support. They also needed to be more involved in goal-setting and in identifying patient needs. Professionals should take into consideration these associated variables to improve relatives’ perceived participation.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Clinicians should give more attention to the altered situation of stroke patients’ relatives when planning for continuing care and when setting postdischarge goals for the patients. The professionals need to develop strategies to involve relatives in sharing information, goal-setting and needs assessment in discharge planning.