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Dr. Bill Haley, of the School of Aging Studies, with colleagues Drs. David Roth, Johns Hopkins University, and Martha Hovater and Olivio Clay, University of Alabama at Birmingham, have published a seminal study on the long-term impact of stroke on family caregiver well-being. 
 
Their paper, published in the Neurology, shows that family caregivers of people with stroke report high levels of depression, and diminished life satisfaction and quality of life in comparison to non-caregiving controls in the months just after their family member has a stroke. However, caregivers’ mental health and quality of life improve over time, and by three years post-stroke, caregivers are comparable to non-caregiving controls in their mental health and quality of life. The findings are consistent with a theme that family caregivers show considerable resilience in response to caregiving stress. Further, the use of a population-based sample enhances the generalizability of the results, and provides the researchers the opportunity to further analyze the data.  Dr. Haley sees additional analyses as important, “Future reports from our group will address individual differences in caregiver well-being over time.  We plan to use a stress process model of caregiving to evaluate changes in stressors, appraisals, social support, and other coping resources.  Future work also will examine whether race and sex affect individual differences in caregiver stress and coping over time.”

This paper, and its findings, is deemed important enough to be accompanied by an Editorial in Neurology, which praises the paper for bringing new methodological rigor to the study of stroke caregiving.   Editors Jill Cameron and Timothy Elliot, write that the research by Haley et al. meets the challenge for methodologic rigor, using advanced statistical analyses to elucidate differences between caregiving and non-caregiving samples.  Hence, “Haley et al. substantially advance our understanding of poststroke care and its influence on caregiver health outcomes.”  Further, the editors suggest that the methods used by Dr. Haley and colleagues should be emulated in future studies of caregivers of stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurologic disorders.

To learn more about Dr. Haley’s work, visit his webpage or email him at whaley@usf.edu.

To read the abstract of the article, see the abstract in PubMed.

Haley, W. E., Roth, D. L., Hovater, M., & Clay, O. J. (2015). Long-term impact of stroke on family caregiver well-being: A population-based case-control study. Neurology, 84(13), 1323-1329.  doi:10.1212/wnl.0000000000001418

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