Interpersonal relationship challenges among stroke survivors and family caregivers

Michael J. McCarthy, Karen S. Lyons, Jeffrey Schellinger, Katie Stapleton, Tamilyn Bakas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A strong interpersonal relationship after stroke is important for the well-being of survivors and family caregivers. However, as many as 54% of families experience relationship problems after stroke and as many as 38% of couples experience overt conflict. The purpose of this study is to enhance understanding about relationship challenges among stroke dyads and to identify implications for direct practice in social work. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with N = 19 care dyads. Qualitative data were analyzed through an interpretive description lens. Seven themes about relationship challenges were identified. Findings highlight areas to consider in promoting strong relationships between survivors and family caregivers. Social workers may have the opportunity to assist dyads with disrupting negative communication cycles, strengthening empathy and collaboration, and achieving a balance so that each person’s needs are met.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-107
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 7 2020


  • Stroke
  • dyads
  • family caregivers
  • qualitative research
  • relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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