Caregivers: Do They Make a Difference to Patient Recovery in Subacute Stroke?

Published:March 28, 2017DOI:



      To evaluate the relationship between caregiver nature and availability, and rehabilitation outcomes in subacute stroke.


      Retrospective cohort study.


      Four community rehabilitation hospitals.


      Patients with subacute, first-time stroke (N=4042; 48.5% men; mean age ± SD, 70.12±10.4y; 51.5% women; mean age ± SD, 72.54 ±10.0y).


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Rehabilitation effectiveness, defined as the percentage of potential improvement eventually achieved with rehabilitation; and rehabilitation efficiency, defined as the rate of functional improvement during rehabilitation.


      In our cohort, 96.7% had available caregiver(s), of which 42.0% were primarily supported by foreign domestic workers (FDWs), 25.9% by spouses, 19.3% by first-degree relatives, 7.8% by other relatives, and 5.1% by other caregivers. Using quantile regression, we found that having a caregiver was independently associated with rehabilitation efficiency (β=−3.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], −6.99 to −0.66; P=.018). The relationship between caregiver availability and rehabilitation effectiveness was modified by patient sex in that the negative association was significantly greater in men (β=−22.81; 95% CI, −32.70 to −12.94; P<.001) than women (β=−5.64; 95% CI, −14.72 to 3.44; P=.223). Having a FDW as a caregiver compared with a spousal caregiver was negatively associated with rehabilitation effectiveness (β=−3.95; 95% CI, −6.94 to −0.95; P=.01) and rehabilitation efficiency (β=−1.83; 95% CI, −3.14 to −0.53; P=.006). The number of potential caregivers was only significantly associated with rehabilitation effectiveness at the bivariate level (P=.006).


      Caregiver identity, and possibly availability, appears to negatively affect rehabilitation outcomes in subacute stroke. A better understanding of these relationships has potential implications on clinical practice and policy directions.


      List of abbreviations:

      ADL (activities of daily living), CI (confidence interval), FDW (foreign domestic worker), mBI (modified Barthel Index)
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