Because of the trend toward shorter hospital stays, family caregivers of stroke survivors are expected to accept more responsibility for helping survivors during the subacute recovery process. The caregiver role is associated with negative health outcomes, yet existing literature differs on whether work status is a contributor. The purpose of this secondary analysis was to examine how caregiving affects employment and to compare characteristics of working and nonworking caregivers. Baseline data of family caregivers (N = 132) caring for stroke survivors 3-9 months after stroke and enrolled in a national multisite study were used. Caregiver characteristics of physical health, depression, fatigue, family functioning, and family conflict were measured. A total of 36% of caregivers reduced their work hours, resigned, or retired from their jobs to care for their family member. A larger proportion (n = 25, 66%) of minority caregivers were employed (full time or part time) compared to white caregivers (n = 43, 46%). Caregivers employed full time were younger and in better physical health but were at higher risk for depressive symptoms than nonworking caregivers. Family function and conflict were similar between the groups, but working caregivers received more assistance from other family members. Healthcare professionals and employers can use these findings to assist them with recognizing the needs of employed caregivers and offering support measures to facilitate their dual role.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Dawn M. Aycock, MSN APRN-BC CCRC, firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a clinical instructor at Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.
Jean Y. Ko, BS, is a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.
Patricia C. Clark, PhD RN FAHA FAAN, is an associate professor at Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.