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Time and difficulty of tasks provided by family caregivers of stroke survivors.

Bakas T, Austin JK, Jessup SL, Williams LS, Oberst MT. Time and difficulty of tasks provided by family caregivers of stroke survivors. The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. 2004 Apr 1; 36(2):95-106.

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Family caregivers of stroke survivors are at risk for negative health outcomes such as depression, psychosocial impairments, and even mortality as a result of providing care. Shortened hospital stays have contributed to the urgent need for caregivers to manage difficult and time-consuming tasks required for the care of stroke survivors in the home setting. The purposes of this study were to (a) identify which tasks were perceived as most time-consuming and difficult, (b) determine which of these tasks were most predictive of mood and other negative caregiver outcomes, and (c) evaluate the psychometric properties of the Oberst Caregiving Burden Scale (OCBS) as a measure of tasks in stroke caregivers. A cross-sectional design was employed using mailed questionnaires from 116 family caregivers of stroke survivors featuring the OCBS, the Profile of Mood States Short Form, and the Bakas Caregiving Outcomes Scale. The tasks perceived as most time-consuming and difficult, which also were predictive of mood and other negative caregiver outcomes, were managing finances, managing behaviors, and providing emotional support. Strong psychometric properties of the OCBS were found at both item and subscale levels. Developing an individual profile using the OCBS items may help to target individual support interventions for caregivers. Suggested interventions include referring caregivers to resources for tasks that fall outside the scope of nursing practice, supporting caregivers with tasks such as providing emotional support or managing behavioral problems, and encouraging caregivers to seek care for their own physical, emotional, or social needs.

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