Background: Disability following a stroke leads to deterioration in the quality of life (QoL) not only of patients, but also of their relatives. Identifying which patient-related variables have the greatest impact on caregivers’ QoL will allow us to improve rehabilitation interventions.
Objective: To assess the QoL of patients after a stroke and that of their main caregivers. A secondary aim was to analyse potential relationships between patient-related variables and the most affected aspects of caregivers’ QoL.
Methods: Prospective cohort study. Sociodemographic data, cognitive status, aphasia, dysphagia, and disability were evaluated 6 months after a stroke. The QoL of patients and caregivers was assessed using the 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36).
Results: 157 patients and 119 caregivers were evaluated. Patients had a mean age of 70.9 ± 11.8 years and Barthel index of 77.15 ± 22.77. The caregiver was usually a woman (74%) and mean age of 58.8 ± 12.43 years. Stroke patients and caregivers perceived deterioration in their QoL, this being more marked in the case of women. Older patients obtained poorer scores in physical function. In caregivers, the SF-36 physical component summary score was lower when care recipients had poorer functional status and/or difficulty swallowing, while the mental component summary score was lower when care recipients were younger and/or male.
Conclusions: Disability of patients following a stroke has a negative impact on their quality of life and that of their main caregiver. The degree of disability and dysphagia of the care recipient have the greatest impact on caregivers’ mental and physical health.