Information provision for stroke survivors and their carers

Thomas F Crocker, Lesley Brown, Natalie Lam, Faye Wray, Peter Knapp, Anne Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by lack of blood supply. Stroke can lead to death or physical and cognitive impairment and can have long lasting psychological and social implications. Research shows that stroke survivors and their families are dissatisfied with the information provided and have a poor understanding of stroke and associated issues.

OBJECTIVES: The primary objective is to assess the effects of active or passive information provision for stroke survivors (people with a clinical diagnosis of stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA)) or their identified carers. The primary outcomes are knowledge about stroke and stroke services, and anxiety.

SEARCH METHODS: We updated our searches of the Cochrane Stroke Group Specialised Register on 28 September 2020 and for the following databases to May/June 2019: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2019, Issue 5) and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR; 2019, Issue 5) in the Cochrane Library (searched 31 May 2019), MEDLINE Ovid (searched 2005 to May week 4, 2019), Embase Ovid (searched 2005 to 29 May 2019), CINAHL EBSCO (searched 2005 to 6 June 2019), and five others. We searched seven study registers and checked reference lists of reviews.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised trials involving stroke survivors, their identified carers or both, where an information intervention was compared with standard care, or where information and another therapy were compared with the other therapy alone, or where the comparison was between active and passive information provision without other differences in treatment.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently assessed trial eligibility and risk of bias, and extracted data. We categorised interventions as either active information provision or passive information provision: active information provision included active participation with subsequent opportunities for clarification and reinforcement; passive information provision provided no systematic follow-up or reinforcement procedure. We stratified analyses by this categorisation. We used GRADE methods to assess the overall certainty of the evidence.

MAIN RESULTS: We have added 12 new studies in this update. This review now includes 33 studies involving 5255 stroke-survivor and 3134 carer participants. Twenty-two trials evaluated active information provision interventions and 11 trials evaluated passive information provision interventions. Most trials were at high risk of bias due to lack of blinding of participants, personnel, and outcome assessors where outcomes were self-reported. Fewer than half of studies were at low risk of bias regarding random sequence generation, concealment of allocation, incomplete outcome data or selective reporting. The following estimates have low certainty, based on the quality of evidence, unless stated otherwise. Accounting for certainty and size of effect, analyses suggested that for stroke survivors, active information provision may improve stroke-related knowledge (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.17 to 0.65; 3 studies, 275 participants), may reduce cases of anxiety and depression slightly (anxiety risk ratio (RR) 0.85, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.06; 5 studies, 1132 participants; depression RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.01; 6 studies, 1315 participants), may reduce Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) anxiety score slightly, (mean difference (MD) -0.73, 95% CI -1.10 to -0.36; 6 studies, 1171 participants), probably reduces HADS depression score slightly (MD (rescaled from SMD) -0.8, 95% CI -1.27 to -0.34; 8 studies, 1405 participants; moderate-certainty evidence), and may improve each domain of the World Health Organization Quality of Life assessment short-form (WHOQOL-BREF) (physical, MD 11.5, 95% CI 7.81 to 15.27; psychological, MD 11.8, 95% CI 7.29 to 16.29; social, MD 5.8, 95% CI 0.84 to 10.84; environment, MD 7.0, 95% CI 3.00 to 10.94; 1 study, 60 participants). No studies evaluated positive mental well-being. For carers, active information provision may reduce HADS anxiety and depression scores slightly (MD for anxiety -0.40, 95% CI -1.51 to 0.70; 3 studies, 921 participants; MD for depression -0.30, 95% CI -1.53 to 0.92; 3 studies, 924 participants), may result in little to no difference in positive mental well-being assessed with Bradley's well-being questionnaire (MD -0.18, 95% CI -1.34 to 0.98; 1 study, 91 participants) and may result in little to no difference in quality of life assessed with a 0 to 100 visual analogue scale (MD 1.22, 95% CI -7.65 to 10.09; 1 study, 91 participants). The evidence is very uncertain (very low certainty) for the effects of active information provision on carers' stroke-related knowledge, and cases of anxiety and depression. For stroke survivors, passive information provision may slightly increase HADS anxiety and depression scores (MD for anxiety 0.67, 95% CI -0.37 to 1.71; MD for depression 0.39, 95% CI -0.61 to 1.38; 3 studies, 227 participants) and the evidence is very uncertain for the effects on stroke-related knowledge, quality of life, and cases of anxiety and depression. For carers, the evidence is very uncertain for the effects of passive information provision on stroke-related knowledge, and HADS anxiety and depression scores. No studies of passive information provision measured carer quality of life, or stroke-survivor or carer positive mental well-being.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Active information provision may improve stroke-survivor knowledge and quality of life, and may reduce anxiety and depression. However, the reductions in anxiety and depression scores were small and may not be important. In contrast, providing information passively may slightly worsen stroke-survivor anxiety and depression scores, although again the importance of this is unclear. Evidence relating to carers and to other outcomes of passive information provision is generally very uncertain. Although the best way to provide information is still unclear, the evidence is better for strategies that actively involve stroke survivors and carers and include planned follow-up for clarification and reinforcement.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD001919
Number of pages196
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2021

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Copyright © 2021 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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