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A systematic review of caregiver burden following stroke


  • Conflict of interest: None.

Heather Rigby*, Division of Neurology, Dalhousie University, Halifax Infirmary, 1796 Summer Street, Room 3383, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H3A7. Tel: +902 431 3302; Fax: +902 473 4438; e-mail:


Abstract Caregiver burden following stroke is increasingly recognised as a significant health care concern. A growing number of studies have evaluated the patient, caregiver, and social support factors that contribute to increased caregiver burden. We conducted a systematic review of this literature to guide future research. A search of the MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and EMBASE databases (up to July 2008) and reference sections of published studies using a structured search strategy yielded 24 relevant articles. Studies were included if they evaluated predictors and/or correlates of caregiver burden in the setting of stroke. The prevalence of caregiver burden was 25–54% and remained elevated for an indefinite period following stroke. In studies that evaluated independent baseline predictors of subsequent caregiver burden, none of the factors reported were consistent across studies. In studies that assessed concurrent factors independently contributing to caregiver burden in the poststroke period, patient characteristics and social support factors were inconsistently reported. Several studies identified caregiver mental health and the amount of time and effort required of the caregiver as significant determinants of caregiver burden. Our findings highlight the need for more research to identify caregivers in need of support and guide the development and implementation of appropriate interventions to offset caregiver burden.