Date Presented 04/22/2023

Helping relatives with stroke can be demanding. This study explored how OTs address mental health and wellness with family caregivers. Findings can guide education of clinicians and contribute to policy change.

Primary Author and Speaker: Emili Husain

Additional Authors and Speakers: Kathleen Kniepmann

Contributing Authors: Kathleen Kniepmann

PURPOSE: Many stroke survivors need support from family caregivers for occupational performance. Caregiver burnout demands attention. Programs for caregivers focus on how to care for stroke survivors (Panzeri, Ferrario & Vidotto, 2019). Some address caregiver mental health, but often they are delivered by other professions (Visser-Meily et al., 2005). Occupational therapists (OT) contribute to caregiver mental health by focusing on meaningful occupations and balance. This study’s purpose was to learn how OTs support stroke caregiver mental health and wellness.

DESIGN: This mixed-methods descriptive study had 27 participants recruited by email and snow-ball sampling. Eligibility criteria: OTs, experienced with stroke survivors, age 20+ years old and proficient in English.

METHOD: A 12 question Qualtrics survey identified clinical practices, views and experience. Open ended questions explored barriers/ facilitators to caregiver care and themes were identified.

RESULTS: Time spent on caregiver education was not correlated with years of experience. All participants rated caregiver mental health and wellness as important. All but one believed OTs should address that arena. Themes were Helping caregivers benefits survivors, OT should provide resources and referrals and Barriers limit care. Barriers included schedule conflicts, caregiver availability, productivity demands and insurance limits. Participants wanted to provide resources for respite, support groups, home transition and mental health.

CONCLUSION: Participants were very concerned about caregiver mental health but several barriers make it difficult to provide adequate care.

IMPACT STATEMENT: Supporting caregiver mental health could contribute to their quality of life. Systemic change is needed to support OT education about caregiver concerns, development of occupation based interventions and changes in policy.


Panzeri, A., Ferrario, S. R., & Vidotto, G. (2019). Interventions for psychological health of stroke caregivers: A systematic review. Frontiers in psychology, 10(1) 1-16.

Visser-Meily, A., van Heugten, C., Post, M., Schepers, V., & Lindeman, E. (2005). Intervention studies for caregivers of stroke survivors: a critical review. Patient education and counseling, 56(3), 257–267.