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Age Ageing. 2010 Sep;39(5):554-9. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afq077. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

The palliative care needs of acute stroke patients: a prospective study of hospital admissions.

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  • 1Centre for Health Related Research, Bangor University, Bangor, UK. c.burton@bangor.ac.uk



despite a mortality rate of approximately 30% in acute stroke, little is known about the palliative care needs of this group of patients.


prospective study of 191 acute stroke patients admitted to hospital in England. Biographical, medical and stroke-related data were collected. Participants completed the Sheffield Profile for Assessment and Referral to Care (SPARC), a screening tool for referral to specialist palliative care.


over 50% reported moderate to significant fatigue-related problems. Approximately 50% reported symptom-related problems (e.g. pain) or psychological distress (e.g. anxiety). Approximately 25% had concerns about death or dying, and 66% had concerns about dependence and disability. Over 50% were worried about the impact of stroke on family members. There were significant main effects of dependence (Barthel Index) (F(1,123) = 12.640 P = 0.001) and age (F(4,123) = 3.022 P = 0.020), and a significant three-factor interaction between dependence, age and co-morbidities (F(9,123) = 2.199 P = 0.026) in predicting total SPARC scores.


acute stroke patients have a high prevalence of palliative care needs. Acute stroke services should use the SPARC for needs assessment. Priority for assessment should be given to patients with a score of <15/20 on the Barthel Index, a tool already used in most stroke services.

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