Task difficulty and life changes among stroke family caregivers: Relationship to depressive symptoms

Susan M. McLennon, Tamilyn Bakas, Nenette M. Jessup, Barbara Habermann, Michael T. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Objectives: To investigate differences in stroke caregiver task difficulty and life changes based on level of caregiver depressive symptoms, and to estimate probabilities among task difficulty and life change items. Design: Descriptive analysis of baseline data from an ongoing stroke caregiver intervention trial. Setting: Hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. Participants: Caregivers (N=242; 78.6% women; 47.7% spouses; 71.8% white; mean age, 54.2±12.1y) caring for stroke survivors within 8 weeks of discharge to home. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Baseline measures for task difficulty (Oberst Caregiving Burden Scale) and life changes (Bakas Caregiving Outcomes Scale) were compared based on level of depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [PHQ-9] scores <5 means no depressive symptoms; n=126; PHQ-9 scores ≥5 means mild to severe depressive symptoms, n=116). Mean scores were analyzed using general linear modeling, with item analyses using logistic regression and the Benjamini-Hochberg method to control type I error inflation. Results: Caregivers with mild to severe depressive symptoms have greater difficulty with tasks and worse life changes than those with no depressive symptoms (P<.001). Odds ratios were highest for the task of arranging care while away and for negative life changes (eg, addressing self-esteem, coping with stress, physical health). Conclusions: Findings underscore the importance of depressive symptom screening for stroke caregivers during or shortly after discharge. Assisting caregivers with depressive symptoms to arrange for respite care and addressing negative physical and psychological changes may be priority areas for future interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2484-2490
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014


  • Caregivers
  • Depressive disorder
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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