Stroke survivors and caregivers to benefit from Kent State study

September 25, 2006

A stroke is a sudden event that can affect all facets of the lives of the stroke survivor and their families. Recovery for stroke survivors often continues well beyond initial stroke onset, making support from family or other caregivers critical to the recovery process. For those thrust into the role of caregiver, tending to the stroke survivor's physical and emotional needs can present many challenges--and the stress experienced by caregivers can adversely affect the stroke survivor's quality of life.

While stroke can happen at any time in life, older adults are the most affected population, and their spouses often shoulder the brunt of care-giving responsibilities. Kent State University researchers have been awarded a $361,350 National Institute of Nursing Research grant to develop, test and refine an innovative, Web-based intervention designed to alleviate depression in caregivers and stroke survivors through peer and professional support.

"The intervention is unique because we are among the first to provide a family care-giving intervention that is explicitly designed to improve the psychological well-being of both the caregiver and the care receiver concurrently," says Dr. Gregory Smith, professor of human development and family studies, who is principle investigator of the inter-disciplinary team of researchers, including co-investigators from the colleges of nursing and communication and information studies, as well as community health professionals. "Most past care-giving intervention research has specifically targeted improving the well-being of the caregiver only."

Smith says older adults, who indicate an increasing desire to communicate and glean information via the Internet, are a prime population for the intervention. A nurse will oversee and facilitate components of the online intervention including video education modules designed to increase caregiving skills, a chat room for caregivers, and Web-based information individually tailored to meet the self-identified needs of caregivers. The study also will examine if key processes and outcomes intended for the intervention vary by racial background.
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For more information, contact Smith at 330-672-9993 or gsmith2@kent.edu

Kent State University

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