Evaluation of a stroke family support organiser: A randomized controlled trial
Francis, Valerie M.
Lilley, Steven A.
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Background and Purpose - There is inconclusive evidence of the effectiveness of the Stroke Family Support Organiser (FSO) service. We report the results from a randomized controlled trial of the service. Methods - Stroke patients admitted to hospital and their informal caregivers were randomly allocated to receive the FSO service (n = 126) or standard care (n = 124). Outcome assessments were undertaken 4 and 9 months after recruitment with the General Health Questionnaire 12, Carer Strain Index, Barthel Index, Extended Activities of Daily Living scale, and a specially designed questionnaire to determine knowledge of stroke and satisfaction with services. Results - There were no significant differences between groups in patients' mood and independence in personal or instrumental activities of daily living or caregivers' mood, strain, or independence. Patients in the intervention group were significantly more knowledgeable about whom to contact for stroke information, reducing the risk of stroke, practical help, community services, and emotional support. Patients in the intervention group were also significantly more satisfied with the stroke information received. Caregivers in the intervention group were significantly more knowledgeable about whom to contact for information on stroke, reducing the risk of stroke, community services, and emotional support. Caregivers in the intervention group were also significantly more satisfied with stroke information. Conclusions - The FSO service had no significant effect on mood, independence in activities of daily living, or reduction in caregiver strain, but it did increase knowledge of stroke and satisfaction with that knowledge. The results may not be representative of all FSO services, and the sample was small relative to the heterogeneity of the participants. However, results suggest that the policies and training procedures of FSOs need to be evaluated to ensure that a cost-effective service is being provided to stroke patients and their caregivers.