The effectiveness of a caregiver support programme to address the needs of primary caregivers of stroke patients in a low socio economic community

Kleineibst, Lynn Jill (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2007-03)

Thesis (MScPhysio (Physiotherapy))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Stroke is a difficult condition to manage because of the complex nature of its effects. Caregivers are therefore, crucial in providing ongoing care for the stroke patient at home. Caregivers experience considerable strain during caregiving, as their needs are often overlooked because therapeutic management tends to focus mainly on the stroke patient. In third world countries like South Africa, there are currently no research studies found describing an optimum support intervention which addresses the caregivers' needs and reduces their strain levels. Objective To determine the effectiveness of a caregiver support intervention programme (CSIP) that was developed to address the expressed needs identified by the primary caregiver of the stroke patient in the Bishop Lavis community. Method A prospective and descriptive qualitative study design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the CSIP. A total of 29 caregivers participated in three CSIPs, which were implemented over five sessions each. The Barthel Index was used to measure the functional level of each stroke patient. The needs of stroke caregivers were determined by 15 semi-structured interviews, until data saturation was reached. The Caregiver Strain Index was completed before and after implementation of the CSIP, in order to measure whether the intervention programme had been effective in reducing the caregivers' level of strain. Written or verbal feedback forms was also completed by the caregivers after each of the five intervention sessions. Results were analysed using repeated measures ANOVA and descriptive qualitative analysis. Results The qualitative results of this study suggest that the CSIP was effective in addressing mainly the physical needs, as well as the emotional, educational and socio-economic needs of the primary caregivers. The CSIP was also effective in reducing caregiver strain in 61.5% of the sample (N=13). However, an additional finding of this study was the personal and logistical barriers identified which limited the caregivers' attendance of the sessions. Conclusion The CSIP was effective in addressing the physical, emotional, socio-economic and educational needs of the primary caregiver. In addition, the results also verified that the CSIP was effective in reducing caregiver strain in the majority of the caregivers, despite a small sample size. The barriers identified which affected the caregivers' attendance, need to be taken into consideration when planning future intervention programmes for caregivers in poor socioeconomic communities. Due to the low attendance rate by the caregivers, a larger sample size is recommended to accommodate for the high drop-out rates in such a population.

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