Original Research

Family functioning and stroke: Family members’ perspectives

Sibulelo Gawulayo, Charlene J. Erasmus, Anthea J. Rhoda
African Journal of Disability | Vol 10 | a801 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v10i0.801 | © 2021 Sibulelo Gawulayo, Charlene J. Erasmus, Anthea J. Rhoda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 September 2020 | Published: 25 October 2021

About the author(s)

Sibulelo Gawulayo, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Charlene J. Erasmus, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Children, Families and Society, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Anthea J. Rhoda, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Stroke survivors often experience permanent or temporal physical and psychological stroke impairments. As a result, stroke survivors are often discharged to recover in their home environments and are cared for mostly by family members. Additionally, caregiving roles are often assumed without any formal training or preparation whatsoever. This can transform the family’s functional patterns due to adjustments that are made to accommodate the caregiving needs.

Objectives: To explore the experiences and influence of stroke on families and on family functioning.

Method: Explorative descriptive qualitative research design through the use of in-depth interviews were employed as the means of data collection. The sample size was eight (8) family members and was guided by the saturation point. Data was thematically analysed.

Results: Four themes emerged from the analysis: 1) reduced interactions with family members due to communication barriers, 2) the influence of stroke on family relationships, 3) emotional engagement in caring for a family member with a stroke and 4) financial implications of stroke on family functioning. This study found that stroke can influence the family functioning negatively as family members may be forced to change their functional patterns. However, some family members reported positive experiences, they developed a supportive structure to accommodate the new life of the stroke survivor.

Conclusion: Using the McMaster’s model of family functioning, this study found that stroke is a threat to the six dimensions of family functioning: 1) problem-solving, 2) communication, 3) roles, 4) affective responsiveness, 5) affective involvement, and 6) behaviour control.


Keywords

stroke; stroke survivor; stroke impairments; activities of daily living (ADL); family members; family functioning and dimensions

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