Newswise — Most persons who have had strokes are cared for at home by family members—many of whom experience depressive symptoms and quality of life changes as a result of providing care. The objective of this study is to determine theoretically based factors associated with unhealthy days in stroke family caregivers.

Research Design and Methods 

Secondary data analysis was conducted using baseline data from a large randomized controlled clinical trial testing the Telephone Assessment and Skill-Building Kit program with 254 family caregivers of persons who have had strokes. Guided by a conceptual model derived from Lazarus’ transactional approach to stress, data were analyzed using multiple regression with unhealthy days as the dependent variable and theoretically based factors as independent variables.


Caregivers were mostly female (78%), White (71%), spouses (47%), or adult children (29%). Caregivers reported nine unhealthy days on average within the past month. A total of 37.8% of the variance in unhealthy days was explained by caregiver task difficulty, level of optimism, threat appraisal, depressive symptoms, and life changes with depressive symptoms being the strongest individual predictor because of shared variance.

Clinical Relevance 

Unhealthy days is an important part of stroke family caregiver health. Factors associated with unhealthy days in this study provide areas to consider in future intervention development.