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INTERVIEWS WITH YOUNG STROKE SURVIVORS TO INFORM BETTER CARE
Background and Aims
Stroke is often regarded as a disease of the elderly. However, 10-15% of strokes occur in people between ages 18 to 50. Young stroke survivors face unique challenges, such as returning to work or raising children, which may not be fully addressed by current stroke rehabilitation resources. The purpose of our qualitative study is to identify gaps in patient care and resources specific to young stroke survivors, and to then translate this knowledge into recommendations for clinical practice at the level of individual healthcare providers, healthcare systems design, stroke guidelines, and healthcare policies.
Using Interpretive Description, a qualitative research methodology, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 stroke survivors aged 18-55 living in British Columbia, Canada to explore their experiences during stroke recovery, and to determine what supports and resources are needed. The interview transcripts were analyzed using broad-based coding and thematic analysis to identify key themes in the interview material.
Key themes include (1) delayed diagnosis of young stroke; (2) inability of current assessment tools to capture nuanced cognitive deficits; (3) lack of psychological/psychiatric support throughout stroke recovery; (4) challenges in finding relevant and accessible community resources; and (5) lack of follow-up resources for chronic management of stroke deficits.
Young stroke survivors experience unique challenges in British Columbia. With this information, we have made recommendations for clinical practice and healthcare systems in BC to improve care of young stroke survivors. This knowledge has the potential to inform other healthcare systems across the world.