Original Research

‘I felt pain. Deep pain…’: Experiences of primary caregivers of stroke survivors with aphasia in a South African township

Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Munyane Mophosho, Muziwakhe Tshabalala
African Journal of Disability | Vol 7 | a368 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v7i0.368 | © 2018 Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Munyane Mophosho, Muziwakhe D. Tshabalala | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 February 2017 | Published: 08 March 2018

About the author(s)

Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Department of Speech Therapy and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Munyane Mophosho, Department of Speech Therapy and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Muziwakhe Tshabalala, Department of Physiotherapy, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa


Background: Aphasia is an acquired impairment in language and in the cognitive processes that underlie language. Aphasia affects the quality of life of the person with aphasia (PWA) and his or her families in various ways in diverse contexts and cultures. It is therefore important that speech language therapists understand how different contextual and cultural factors may mediate experiences.
Purpose: The aim of the study was to describe the caregiving experience of female caregivers of PWA residing in Tembisa, a township situated in the east of Johannesburg.
Method: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with primary caregivers of PWA. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 14 primary caregivers of PWA who were daughters, daughters-in-law or wives of the PWA. The interviews were conducted in participants’ first language and analysed by the researcher, who is proficient in isiZulu. Data were analysed according to the principles of thematic analysis.
Results: Findings indicated that caregivers are unfamiliar with aphasia and the support available to them. Participants experienced frustration and found communication to be challenging owing to their lack of communication strategies. The participants’ experiences reflected their context-specific experiences, such as feminisation of caregiving, barriers to healthcare, the influence of low health literacy and contextual perspectives on stroke and aphasia.
Conclusions: Contextual factors of caregivers in Tembisa have an influence on the experiences between caregivers and PWA, the feelings of individuals and families and health-seeking behaviours of individuals and families.


Aphasia; Township context; Primary Caregivers; Stroke Survivors; Support


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Crossref Citations

1. Towards universal health coverage for people with stroke in South Africa: a scoping review
Sjan-Mari van Niekerk, Sureshkumar Kamalakannan, Gakeemah Inglis-Jassiem, Maria Yvonne Charumbira, Silke Fernandes, Jayne Webster, Rene English, Quinette A Louw, Tracey Smythe
BMJ Open  vol: 11  issue: 11  first page: e049988  year: 2021  
doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049988