Stroke patients and their families are still lacking emotional and psychological care

Stroke is a debilitating condition not only to the patient, but also to his family. With our current technology and medical advancements we are able to help more and more of these people to recover. However, death and disability are still common results of stroke. Scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow suggest that doctors should pay more attention to patient‘s psychological condition.

Both patients and their families are in need of psychological help after a major stroke. Image credit: Arba Hatashi via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Scientists interviewed patients and their families for a year after a severe form of a stroke. They found that they didn’t receive enough help to cope with their emotional needs and psychological damage. Furthermore, more than half of the patients in the study died within six months of admission to hospital and relatives found that health professionals didn’t try preparing them for such event. A major stroke is always followed by debilitating feelings of loss and uncertainty, which inevitably has a huge impact on their quality of life.

Scientists say that doctors should not avoid painful question of death. As scientists discovered over their research period, death is always close by after a major stroke. However, family members of the patients often find that the care was overly focused on physical recovery, even in the face of a possibility of death. Emotional needs of the patients and their families were often overlooked and preparation for death was not seen at all. One participant of the study said that they would have done things differently if they knew that death was such a high probability. Instead of focusing on physical recovery they would have paid more attention to emotional needs of the patients and preparation for death as recovery was never going to happen. Many interviewed people said that rehabilitation should incorporate principles of palliative care.

Stroke kills more than 6 million people in the world every year. When a major stroke happens, doctors are trying to focus on recovery, but they should inform relatives about the magnitude of the condition. People must know that the stroke patient may not ever recover. Professor Gillian Mead, one of the authors of the study, said: “Stroke occurs suddenly and patients may face death or survival with major disability. Staff must have sensitive conversations with patients and family to find out their views and agree on which treatments are appropriate. This is an important education and training topic for everyone in the stroke team”.

It is always better to be prepared for the worst. Some emotional, psychological care could be a significant improvement to the quality of life of the patients and their family.


Source: University of Edinburgh

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