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Health Soc Care Community. 2003 Sep;11(5):405-14.

A review and commentary of the social factors which influence stroke care: issues of inequality in qualitative literature.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Kings' College London, London, UK.


Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK and a major cause of adult disability. Stroke services have long been criticised for being deficient and there is evidence that some aspects of care provision vary across different population groups. While there is information about the patterns of service provision, questions remain about processes which might underlie these variations. The present paper sought to assess how well the processes which might lead to inequity in the delivery and uptake of stroke services are currently understood by reviewing the qualitative literature in the area. The review was carried out by systematically searching online literature databases, using keyword and bibliographical searches, within a particular time frame. In total, 55 articles were reviewed, including studies related to primary and secondary clinical care, as well as social care. Articles focused on both professionals' and patients' perspectives. The review reports the cultural factors and processes which have been identified as possible causes of barriers to professionals' delivering stroke services, as well as issues which influence patients' uptake of services. Issues identified in the literature were categorised into four broad thematic areas: conceptualisations of stroke illness and ageing, socio-economic factors, resource allocation and information provision. These themes are then revisited through the hypothesis that the concept of social and personal identity could cast new light on our understanding of how inequity in stroke care provision might arise. It is argued that the ways in which professionals and patients view themselves and each other influences their interaction, and in turn, the delivery and demand for services. Finally, the authors suggest areas where further research is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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