Death Rate Lower for Stroke Patients with Therapy

Counseling reduces depression for stroke patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Following a stroke, many people feel the need to reevaluate their lives, consider life expectations and ponder how it might affect the lifestyle they had lived previously.

Research recently published in the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association reveals that patients who receive several counseling sessions that include "motivational interviews" are less depressed and have better survival rates within the first year following a stroke.

The motivational interview refers to talk-based therapy where stroke patients can discuss recovery and life goals, and also health problems that may require behavioral changes. Depression is a common problem following a stroke and can interfere with recovery.

"Attend counseling following a stroke to lessen depression."

After one year, 48 percent of stroke patients had a normal mood based on counseling compared to only 37.7 percent who did not engage in therapy. The death rate among those receiving therapy was 6.5 percent compared to 12.8 percent in the group that did not participate in motivational interviews.

Researchers began following patients within one month of a stroke. Investigators followed 411 patients in a hospital's stroke unit with an average age of 70 years old. Researchers assessed mood and expectations for recovery and activity. All patients received standard stroke care but half were assigned to four 30 to 60 minute counseling sessions within two to four weeks of suffering a stroke.

Those with severe communication problems were not included in the study. Patients were assessed at the one year mark with a mailed questionnaire.

Dr. Caroline Watkins, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of Stroke and Older People’s Care at University of Central Lancashire in England said the early intervention helped stroke patients set realistic expectations for recovery and may possibly help them live longer.

She noted that prior studies of depressed stroke patients may have had limited success because the depression interfered with rehabilitation and recovery.

The study was funded by the National Health Service Executive, Department of Health North West, and Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals National Health Service Trust while the 12-month follow up survey was funded by Nursing and University of Central Lancashire.

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Review Date: 
June 22, 2011
Last Updated:
June 26, 2011