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Br J Gen Pract. Feb 2003; 53(487): 137–142.
PMCID: PMC1314515

Developing a primary care-based stroke service: a review of the qualitative literature.


The aim of this review was to identify the most frequently encountered longer-term problems experienced by stroke patients and their informal carers. Systematically identified qualitative studies describing self-reported experiences of stroke-related long-term problems were independently reviewed and the findings analysed using a clustering technique. Twenty-three qualitative studies, which included approximately 500 patients and 180 carers, were identified by the search methods. Most of the studies were cross-sectional, United Kingdom-based, and employed semi-structured individual interviews. The review identified 203 problem areas, which were categorised into five domains: hospital experience; transfer of care; communication; services; and social and emotional consequences. The largest domain was the social and emotional consequences of stroke, representing 39% of all problem areas. These included problems relating to mood, social changes, attitudes to recovery, and changes in self-perception and relationships. Service deficiencies, encompassing both health and social care, was the second largest domain, accounting for 29% of the problem areas. The review provides a basis for a user-focused, longer-term stroke service. The need for responses that go beyond the traditional physical rehabilitation approach is evident, and research to identify broader treatment strategies is now required.

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Selected References

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