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Int J Nurs Stud. 2008 Feb;45(2):257-65. Epub 2006 Oct 16.

The impact of gender regarding psychological well-being and general life situation among spouses of stroke patients during the first year after the patients' stroke event: a longitudinal study.

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Department of Nursing, Karolinska Institutet, 23300, S-141 83 Stockholm, Sweden. <>



The informal caregivers perceive lack of choice to take on the role of caregiving, receiving little or no preparation for the caregiving role at home. The typical informal caregiver is female, either a spouse or adult child of the care recipient, and seldom shares the responsibilities of caregiving with other family members. The spouses worry about the ill relative, but also about what consequences the disease might have for their own life. The worries seem to vary with gender and disease. There are, to our knowledge, few previous longitudinal studies that have focused on gender differences among spouses of stroke patients.


To explore gender differences among spouses in perceived psychological well-being and general life situation, during the first year after the patients' stroke event.


Longitudinal study with three assessments regarding psychological well-being and general life situation during 1 year.


The study took place at a stroke ward, Stockholm, Sweden.


Consecutively 80 female and 20 male spouses of stroke patients admitted to a stroke unit participated.


Data were analysed using analyses of variance.


Female spouses have a negative impact on psychological well-being, while male spouses have a lower occurrence of emotional contacts in their social network. Consistently, the female spouses reported lower quality of life and well-being than the male spouses.


This study generates the hypotheses that there are gender differences among spousal caregivers of stroke patients; female spouses are more negatively affected in their life situation due to the patients' stroke event than the male spouses. It is important to take the individual differences under consideration when designing a nursing intervention, to meet the different needs and demands of male and female caregivers. The interventions should focus on individual support, so that the caregivers can adapt to their new role and be comfortable and effective as informal caregivers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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