ISU Headlines

Idaho State University Study examining how stroke changes people’s roles; Southeast Idaho volunteers needed

Posted February 29, 2012

The Idaho State University Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy is looking for eight to 12 volunteers to participate in a study examining the "Occupational Role Change in Stroke Survivors."

"We're really looking at how a stroke changes a person's life," said Ted Peterson, ISU occupational therapy clinical assistant professor and the study's principal investigator, "and changes the roles in their lives, things like being a grandmother or spouse, whatever role people define for themselves. These roles often change dramatically after they have a stroke and that’s what we're trying to zero in on."

Study volunteers must meet the following inclusion criteria:

• have suffered a stroke serious enough to require a period of inpatient rehabilitation;

• were discharged to home following their rehabilitation and currently live in a private residence (house or apartment, not an assisted living facility or nursing home);

• at least one year has passed since the stroke; and

• are able to communicate well enough to be interviewed.

There is no cost to participate, and there is no compensation for participation.

Volunteers will be interviewed in their homes or, at their request, at a public place convenient to them. They will be asked to complete a survey, "The Role Checklist," regarding their occupational roles, after which they will be asked questions regarding their responses and their perceptions of life satisfaction before and after the stroke. It is anticipated that participation will take 60 to 90 minutes.

One way in which people organize their lives is through occupational roles, according to Peterson. Occupational roles help to define both societal and personal expectations regarding an individual’s activities. Examples of occupational roles include breadwinner, homemaker, parent/grandparent, volunteer and other such meaningful roles as defined for oneself by an individual.

"The fulfillment of occupational roles contributes significantly to the way a person finds meaning in life and is a significant determinant of the level of life satisfaction experienced," Peterson said.

Major illnesses and injuries have the potential to change the way in which a person is able to fulfill his or her occupational roles.  In the case where physical or cognitive disability persists, there may need to be a change in the occupational roles an individual attempts to fulfill.  Since occupational roles are intimately connected with a person's self-concept, such changes have the potential to significantly alter the meaningfulness and the amount of satisfaction one derives from his or her life.

"The purpose of the study is to investigate the phenomenon of occupational role change in stroke survivors," Peterson said. "This may include such topics as the prevalence and/or magnitude of such change, its correlation with how survivors perceive the quality of their lives, and personal experience with such change."

Research assistants will include students in the ISU Master of Occupational Therapy program who will use their participation to fulfill research class requirements for graduation.

For more information or to volunteer for the study, contact Peterson at (208) 282-4631 or