PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to investigate whether the dependency of midlife stroke survivors had any long-term impact on their spouses' QALY-weights.
METHOD: Data on stroke survivors, controls, and spouses were collected from the 7-year follow-up of the Sahlgrenska Academy Study on Ischemic Stroke. Health-related quality of life was assessed by the SF-36, and the preference-based health state values were assessed with the SF-6D. Spouses of dependent and independent stroke survivors were categorized according to their scores on the modified Rankin Scale. An ordinary least squares regression analysis was used to evaluate whether the dependency of the stroke survivors had any impact on the spouses' QALY-weights.
RESULT: Cohabitant dyads of 247 stroke survivors aged <70 at stroke onset and 245 dyads of controls were included in the study. Spouses of dependent stroke survivors (n = 50) reported a significant lower mean QALY-weight of 0.69 in comparison to spouses of independent stroke survivors (n = 197) and spouses of controls, (n = 245) who both reported a mean QALY-weight of 0.77. The results from the regression analysis showed that higher age of the spouse and dependency of the stroke survivor had a negative association with the spouses' QALY-weights.
CONCLUSION: The QALY-weights for spouses of dependent midlife stroke survivors were significantly reduced compared to spouses of independent midlife stroke survivors. This indicates that the inclusion of spouses' QALYs in evaluations of early treatment and rehabilitation efforts to reduce stroke patients' dependency would capture more of the total effect in dyads of stroke survivors.