Informal caregiving burden and perceived social support in an acute stroke care facility

Providing informal caregiving in the acute in-patient and post-hospital discharge phases places enormous burden on the caregivers who often require some form of social support. However, it appears there are few published studies about informal caregiving in the acute in-patient phase of individuals with stroke particularly in poor-resource countries. This study was designed to evaluate the prevalence of caregiving burden and its association with patient and caregiver-related variables and also level of perceived social support in a sample of informal caregivers of stroke survivors at an acute stroke-care facility in Nigeria.

Ethical approval was sought and obtained. Fifty-six (21 males, 35 females) consecutively recruited informal caregivers of stroke survivors at the medical ward of a tertiary health facility in South-Southern Nigeria participated in this cross-sectional survey. Participants’ level of care-giving strain/burden and perceived social support were assessed using the Caregiver Strain Index and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support respectively. Caregivers’ and stroke survivors’ socio-demographics were also obtained. Data was analysed using frequency count and percentages, independent t-test, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and partial correlation at α =0.05.

The prevalence of care-giving burden among caregivers is 96.7% with a high level of strain while 17.9% perceived social support as low. No significant association was found between caregiver burden and any of the caregiver- or survivor-related socio-demographics aside primary level education. Only the family domain of the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support was significantly correlated with burden (r = - 0.295).

Informal care-giving burden was highly prevalent in this acute stroke caregiver sample and about one in every five of these caregivers rated social support low. This is a single center study. Healthcare managers and professionals in acute care facilities should device strategies to minimize caregiver burden and these may include family education and involvement.

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