Incongruence Between Stroke Survivor and Spouse Perceptions of Survivor Functioning and Effects On Spouse Emotional Health: A Mixed-Methods Study
Methods. In-depth interviews were conducted with 36 stroke survivor-spouse dyads (N = 72). Survivors and spouses were interviewed separately. Each partner also completed a series of standardized quantitative measures assessing survivor memory and thinking, survivor ability to perform common activities of daily living (ADLs), and survivor and spouse depressive symptoms. Constant comparative analysis was used to distill themes from interview transcripts. Discrepancy scores were calculated (i.e., the difference between partners’ individual ratings of survivor functioning) and used in multiple regression models predicting spouse depressive symptoms.
Results. Spouses described being concerned and worried about survivors having unrealistic and potentially dangerous views about their own abilities post-stroke. Spouses consistently rated survivor memory and thinking and ADL functioning as worse than survivors rated themselves. After controlling for spouse gender, age, and individual rating of survivor ADL functioning, discrepancy scores for ADL functioning were found to significantly predict spouse depressive symptoms (β = .472, p = .007).
Conclusions and implications. These qualitative and quantitative findings are complementary and provide a nuanced picture of how incongruence in partners’ perceptions about survivor functioning can tangibly impact spouse emotional health. Social work practitioners should be aware of the complex dynamics involved in recovering from stroke in the context of a spousal relationship and work to reconcile partners’ perceptions about survivor functioning.