How is post-stroke fatigue understood by stroke survivors and carers?
How is post-stroke fatigue understood by stroke survivors and carers? Karen Thomas, a PhD student supervised by Jonathan Mant (both Public Health and Primary Care, Cardiovascular team), devised a study to understand post-stroke fatigue from the perspective of stroke survivors and care-givers expressed in an online discussion forum.
There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year and it is the fourth single leading cause of death in the UK. According to the Stroke association statistics, there are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK costing the NHS £1.7 billion a year in England alone. Post-stroke fatigue is one of the most commonly reported unmet needs by stroke survivors.
Published in BMJ Open, this is the first study to employ data from an online forum to characterise post-stroke fatigue, capturing the most prevalent beliefs, largely that fatigue is ‘due to the brain healing’. The data is considered naturalistic owing to the absence of a researcher guiding the discussion, and thus generates useful insights for healthcare professionals. Findings suggest a requirement for consistent understanding and explanation to be provided by healthcare professionals. The beliefs outlined in the study highlight the gap between clinical and community knowledge. Further research to translate understanding of patient and carer perspective into improved management of post-stroke fatigue is required to optimise the recovery process for stroke survivors with fatigue and their care-givers.