Objectives: The aim was to investigate the relation between cognitive impairment in stroke patients and strain in their spouses.
Methods: Patients were assessed for cognitive impairment on tests of general mental state, language, reasoning, visuospatial ability and visual neglect. Other factors noted were level of consciousness on admission, side of stroke, weakness, functional ability, swallowing and incontinence. Carer strain was assessed 3 and 6 months later on the Caregiver Strain Index.
Results: Spearman’s correlation coefficients were calculated between cognitive measures and strain. The relationship between global cognitive deficit and carer strain was inconsistent. Language deficit was related to strain early after stroke (rs=-0.25, p=0.03) but was not significantly related to strain by 6 months (rs=-0.18, p=0.14). Reasoning, visual neglect and other patient characteristics were not significantly associated with carer strain (rs=-0.15-0.09, p>0.05; U=204-602, p>0.05).
Conclusions: Communication difficulties were associated with early carer strain. Long-term strain in spouses of stroke patients is likely to be related to characteristics other than the neuropsychological consequences of stroke.