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Postdischarge Intervention for Stroke Caregivers: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Background: The majority of stroke survivors return to their homes and need assistance from family caregivers to perform activities of daily living. These increased demands coupled with the lack of preparedness for their new roles lead to a high risk for caregivers developing depressive symptoms and other negative outcomes. Follow-up home support and problem-solving interventions with caregivers are crucial for maintaining stroke survivors in their homes. Problem-solving interventions are effective but are underused in practice because they require large amounts of staff time to implement and are difficult for caregivers logistically.; Objective: The aim of this study is to test a problem-solving intervention for stroke caregivers that can be delivered over the telephone during the patient's transitional care period (time when the stroke survivor is discharged to home) followed by 8 asynchronous online sessions.; Methods: The design is a two-arm parallel randomized clinical trial with repeated measures. We will enroll 240 caregivers from eight Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. Participants randomized into the intervention arm receive a modified problem-solving intervention that uses telephone and web-based support and training with interactive modules, fact sheets, and tools on the previously developed and nationally available Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers' Understanding and Empowerment Caregiver website. In the usual care group, no changes are made in the information, discharge planning, or care the patients who have had a stroke normally receive, and caregivers have access to existing VA resources (eg, caregiver support line, self-help materials). The primary outcome is a change in caregiver depressive symptoms at 11 and 19 weeks after baseline data collection. Secondary outcomes include changes in stroke caregivers' burden, knowledge, positive aspects of caregiving, self-efficacy, perceived stress, health-related quality of life, and satisfaction with care and changes in stroke survivors' functional abilities and health care use. The team will also determine the budgetary impact, facilitators, barriers, and best practices for implementing the intervention. Throughout all phases of the study, we will collaborate with members of an advisory panel.; Results: Study enrollment began in June 2015 and is ongoing. The first results are expected to be submitted for publication in 2021.; Conclusions: This is the first known study to test a transitional care and messaging center intervention combined with technology to decrease caregiver depressive symptoms and to improve the recovery of stroke survivors. If successful, findings will support an evidence-based model that can be transported into clinical practice to improve the quality of caregiving post stroke.; Trial Registration: NCT01600131;; International Registered Report Identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/21799. 

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Randomized controlled trial
JMIR Publications
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JMIR Research Protocols
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