This prospective study was designed to describe different aspects of psychosocial function after stroke and the development of changes over time. A major aim has been to identify mental, functional, and social factors associated with low life satisfaction late after stroke.
Social network, functional ability, leisure-time activities, experience of ill health, major depression, and life satisfaction were assessed repeatedly over 3 years in a population-based sample of 50 long-term survivors of stroke (mean age 71.4 years).
Compared with a general elderly population, patients 3 years poststroke had more psychiatric symptoms, lower functional ability, and reduced life satisfaction. Contacts with children were maintained over the 3-year follow-up period, whereas contacts with friends and neighbors declined early after stroke and remained lower than in the general elderly population (p less than 0.05). When time dependency was analyzed, activities of daily living and somatic/neurological symptoms were found to change little after 3 months, while psychiatric symptoms showed changes later. Between 3 and 12 months poststroke, the prevalence of major depression decreased, leisure-time activities and social contacts were partly resumed, and life satisfaction improved (p less than 0.01). Once good life satisfaction was restored it was maintained, and poor life satisfaction at 1 year remained poor for the entire 3 years.
It is concluded that major depression early after stroke, functional disability, and an impaired social network interact to reduce life satisfaction for the long-term survivors of stroke.
American Heart Association , 1992. Vol. 23, no 4, 527-531 p.