Purpose: This meta-synthesis was conducted to explore qualitative spousal accounts of coping and adaptation to caregiving when their partner experienced a stroke. Method: Electronic databases were searched systematically and inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. The meta-synthesis was conducted using guidance from Sandelowski and Barroso to extract salient data relating to coping and adaptation. Results: Twelve papers were identified for inclusion and seven themes resultant themes were extracted: Seeking information; Searching for own space and well-being; Suffering in silence; Putting one’s own needs aside; Adapting to a changed role; Social support and Hope and Optimism: instilling a positive focus. Conclusions: The findings suggested spouses adopt a range of adaptive coping strategies although several barriers to these were also identified and discussed in relation to a number of clinical implications. The limitations of this meta-synthesis were discussed, together with recommendations for future research.
Implications for Rehabilitation:
It is important to provide stroke-related information and training in practical care tasks, preferably before their partner is discharged home from hospital, in order to avoid leaving spouses feeling vulnerable and unprepared.
The positive adapting mechanisms identified within this review can be drawn on by clinicians to inform their interactions with stroke spousal carers and to advise them in strategies which have helped their counterparts.