A family member of one of the estimated seven million stroke survivors in the United States, community health major Chessy Dintruff wanted to examine how strokes affect direct family members who serve as caregivers. Her research project, the Identification of Factors Contributing to Relationship Strain among Family Members and Stroke Survivors, was accepted by URSP.
Dintruff’s idea came about when she realized how much research is geared only toward stroke survivors. “When a person has any kind of obstacle or some sort of chronic disease,” she says, “it has a ripple effect on the family taking care of the person.”
Her qualitative research, conducted by interviewing family members of stroke survivors, has so far shown that caregiving “actually seems to strengthen relationships as opposed to hurting relationships,” Dintruff says.
Mason social work professor Catherine Tompkins is Dintruff’s mentor and says she was impressed by Dintruff’s determination. “Chessy was unsuccessful the first time she applied for a URSP grant,” says Tompkins, “but she tried again and was successful. She is passionate about her study, and I immensely enjoy working with her.”
Inova Fairfax Hospital’s Neuroscience Research Department has offered Dintruff an internship to expand on her work. After graduating, she hopes to earn a master’s degree to become a physician’s assistant.
—Cathy Cruise, MFA ’93