Impact of social support on outcome in first stroke.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of social support on outcome after first stroke in a prospective cohort study. Although modest evidence exists for the importance of several psychosocial factors, studies have failed to use widely recognized measures of outcome and social support, have failed to control for time since onset, and have not used longitudinal techniques. METHODS: Forty-six surviving patients were followed for 6 months after stroke. Recovery was measured using repeated measures of functional status as indicated by the Barthel Index of activities of daily living. Perceived social support was measured at 1, 3, and 6 months after onset. Repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance was used to analyze changes in functional status. RESULTS: Significant differences were found across levels of social support in trajectories of functional status (p = 0.002). A significant three-way interaction between stroke severity, social support, and outcome was also found (p = 0.012). Patients with more severe stroke and the largest amount of social support attained an average Barthel Index that was 68 points (65%) higher than the group reporting the least support. CONCLUSIONS: High levels of social support were associated with faster and more extensive recovery of functional status after stroke. Social support may be an important prognostic factor in recovery from stroke. Socially isolated patients may be at particular risk for poor outcome.
Glass, TA; Matchar, DB; Belyea, M; Feussner, JR
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