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Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the occupational needs of caregivers of stroke survivors and to identify potential implications for occupational therapy’s role with this population. Methods: Focus groups and a semi-structured interview were used to gather an in-depth perspective on caregivers’ needs and level of participation in valued activities. Interactions were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis included open coding, formulation of categorical patterns, and thematic analysis. Rigor was enhanced through peer review, multiple coders, member checking, and triangulation. Results: Four primary themes emerged: (1) the essential need for additional services and support; (2) the amount of time spent on addressing spouses’ needs resulted in occupational loss; (3) finding new ways to participate in daily life activities; and, (4) an association between the survivor’s level of impairment and the caregiver’s quality of life. Conclusion: Demands of caregiving can lead to changes in roles, responsibilities, and routines. OT practitioners are uniquely qualified to reinstate valued occupations into daily life, formulate balanced routines, and provide client specific supports and resources. OT services could provide strategies to enhance caregivers’ ability to partake in meaningful occupations and resume a balanced lifestyle. More research is needed to determine the occupational needs of caregivers and the effectiveness of caregiver interventions.

Author Bio(s)

Lisa Jean Knecht-Sabres, DHS, OTR/L, is an Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program at Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL. Dr. Knecht-Sabres' primary areas of research have centered on adult learning, experiential learning, interprofessional education, and enhancing readiness for clinical practice. Her areas of clinical expertise have primarily focused on enhancing occupational performance for adults and older adults with physical and neurological disabilities.

Karley Kammer, MOT, earned her Master of Occupational Therapy degree at Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL. She has OT experience with adults in acute care with orthopedic and neurological conditions; with adults with hand injuries on an out-patient basis; and, with pediatrics in the school setting.

Matthew Kilian, MOT, earned his Master of Occupational Therapy degree at Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL. He has OT experience with adults with a plethora of conditions in acute care and in mental health.

Kimberly Veverka, MOT, earned her Master of Occupational Therapy degree at Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL. She has OT experience with adults in in-patient rehabilitation and in pediatrics.

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