Caregiving for a spouse who has survived a stroke has multidimensional implications for both the partner and the spousal caregiver. A phenomenological study was conducted to examine the experiences of spousal caregivers for stroke survivors. Eight spouses who met the inclusion criteria participated in the study. van Manen's (1997) approach was used to examine the spousal caregivers' experiences. Data were collected through audiotapes from semistructured interviews. The interviews were transcribed to form textual descriptions of the caregivers' experiences. Six interrelated themes emerged through data analysis: experiencing a profound sense of loss, adjusting to a new relationship with a spouse, taking on new responsibilities, feeling the demands of caregiving, having to depend on the support of others, and maintaining hope and optimism. This study contributes to healthcare providers' understanding and knowledge of spousal caregivers for stroke survivors, and supports the need for continued research in this area.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Ursula Eileen Coombs, MN RN, firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a regional nurse consultant at Palliative Care Service with the Western Regional Integrated Health Authority, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada.