In Sickness and in Health: Couples Coping with Stroke across the Life Span

Michael J. McCarthy, Elizabeth Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Although its impact on individual survivors and caregivers is well understood, few studies have examined how it affects both members of a couple and how the experience may differ according to age and duration of a couple's relationship. This study reports findings from qualitative interviews of couples coping with stroke. Sixty-two survivors and spouses (that is, 31 couples) between the ages of 31 and 93 years described the impact of stroke on their own life, their spouse's life, and their lives as a couple. Qualitative analysis methods were used, through the lens of biographical disruption theory, to extract themes. Four primary themes were identified: (1) practical and emotional challenges, (2) relationship challenges, (3) unexpected changes to couples' anticipated life course, and (4) mobilization of emotional and relationship resources after stroke. Participants experienced these themes differently according to their ages and duration of their relationship. The article ends with a discussion of implications for social work practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e92-e100
JournalHealth and Social Work
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • coping
  • couples
  • life span
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


Dive into the research topics of 'In Sickness and in Health: Couples Coping with Stroke across the Life Span'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this