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When couples disagree on stroke recovery, one partner can suffer
Date:6/23/2014

CINCINNATIAn innovative study from a University of Cincinnati (UC) social work researcher has found that when a stroke survivor and his or her caregiving spouse disagree on the survivor's rate of recovery, the caregiving spouse is more likely to experience depression and emotional distress.

Assistant Professor Michael McCarthy, PhD, working with co-author Karen Lyons at the Oregon Health and Science University, interviewed 35 couples in which one spouse had experienced a stroke within the past three years.

In separate sessions, stroke survivors and their spouses discussed the survivor's recovery, including the performance of daily functions, their memory and ability to problem solve. In the first mixed-method study in the topic, both quantitative and qualitative data showed that spouses rated rehabilitation progress as significantly worse than survivorsand that this discrepancy was associated with spouse depression.

"We found that spouses rated their partners' recovery worse than survivors rated it themselves, and that this discrepancy predicted depressive symptoms in the spouses," says McCarthy.

"So if the wife has a stroke," he continues, "and she believes, for example, that she can still drive but her husband doesn'tthe difference in their perception is predictive of the husband's emotional distress. We were able to quantify and capture a different kind of worry and stress that caregiving spouses can experience and connect it to their outcomes."

He adds that the magnitude of the discrepancy in perceptions between survivors and spousal caregivers is key to predicting depression in spousal caregiverswhich can then cycle back onto the survivors.

McCarthy says there is some evidence that wives may be particularly susceptive to caregiver worry, as are spouses in strong, fulfilling relationships. With studies demonstrating that stroke caregivers have higher rates of depression than the general public and ma
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Contact: Katy Cosse
kathryn.cosse@uc.edu
513-558-0207
University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Source:Eurekalert

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