Master of Science
Informal stroke caregivers, comprised of family and friends, can experience prolonged stress that places them at risk of poor health and social outcomes. These caregivers may benefit from formal health and social services, but they are often underused and challenging to access. This qualitative interpretive description study sought to explore health providers’ perspectives on the factors that impact stroke caregivers' access and use of formal health and social services. In addition, it sought to explore health providers' experiences and how they perceive their role in supporting stroke caregivers'. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 health providers. Through inductive thematic analysis, resultant themes include: (a) a fragmented health system impacts the ability to provide continuity of care, (b) challenges in care provision and accessibility creates moral distress for health providers, (c) access to social support is pivotal for stroke caregivers’ self-care, (d) stroke caregivers require individualized care, (e) providing a single access point for stroke caregiver support is essential for success, and (f) current services are not meeting people living with stroke and stroke caregivers’ needs. Health providers are critical stakeholders due to their rich understanding of this issue, highlighting the importance of their involvement in caregiver initiatives.
Summary for Lay Audience
With improvements in healthcare, more individuals are surviving strokes, leading to an increased number of persons living with stroke (PLWS) recovering at home. This places a higher need for informal stroke caregivers. Informal caregivers are family and friends who provide essential and ongoing support for family members and friends. The stress they experience can lead to negative emotional, social, environmental, financial, and health-related consequences.
Formal health and social services can benefit stroke caregivers when they are available and used appropriately, providing relief, support, and opportunity for health promotion. However, evidence has shown many factors that influence stroke caregivers’ ability to access services. Health providers are important individuals to consider when looking at this issue due to their knowledge and experience with PLWS, stroke caregivers, and community resources. However, there is limited research on this issue that includes the health provider perspective. This study aimed to explore the experiences of stroke caregivers in accessing formal health and social services from the perspective of health providers. Additionally, it sought to understand how health providers perceive their role in supporting stroke caregivers'.
This qualitative study examined interviews with 18 health providers across Southwestern Ontario. Interviews were analyzed to discover the following themes: a fragmented health system impacts the ability to provide continuity of care; challenges in care provision and accessibility creates moral distress for health providers; access to social support is pivotal for stroke caregivers’ self-care; stroke caregivers require individualized care; providing a single access point for stroke caregiver support is essential for success; and current services are not meeting people living with stroke and stroke caregivers’ needs.
By examining health providers' perspectives, we can better understand the challenges stroke caregivers face when accessing formal health and social services. In addition, we can understand the challenges health providers face when attempting to support stroke caregivers. With a clearer understanding of this issue, we can better support stroke caregivers so that they can successfully continue their vital role.
Pollock, Hannah, "Health Providers Perspectives on the Access and Use of Formal Health and Social Services by Stroke Caregivers" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8260.
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