Background: Annually, 41,000 people in the Netherlands have strokes. This has multiple physical and psychosocial consequences. Most patients return home after discharge from hospital. Quality aftercare by general practitioners is important to support patients at home. The purpose of this study is to examine the wellbeing of patients who returned home immediately after discharge from hospital, one year post stroke, in comparison with the general Dutch population of the same age and to determine factors that could influence wellbeing.
Methods: All the stroke patients from the Department of Neurology, Martini Hospital Groningen in the period November 2006 to October 2007 were included. People aged under 65 years or with haemorrhaging were excluded. All the patients (N = 57) were interviewed at home using the following questionnaires: Barthel Index, SF-36, HADS, CSI and a questionnaire about their way of life.
Results: 31% of the patients in this study experienced a decrease in functional status after one year. Nevertheless, there was no significant difference between the median Barthel Index value at discharge from hospital and one year post stroke. ADL independence correlated with a better quality of life. The health-related quality of life was high. Stroke patients have almost the same quality of life as the 'average' Dutch elderly population. Where patients can no longer fully participate in society, their perceived quality of life is also lower. In this study there is an indication of a high prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders in stroke patients. This negatively affects the quality of life a year after stroke. Although caregiver strain was low for the partners of stroke patients, a reduced quality of life is correlated to greater burden.
Conclusions: This study provides valuable insight into the wellbeing of patients living at home one year post stroke. Physical functioning and quality of life are comparable to the general population of the same age, but improvements in mental functioning can be envisaged. In addition, more attention should be paid to maintaining the patients' activities. The wellbeing of these stroke patients could be increased further if greater attention is paid to these aspects of life. This seems to be applicable to general practice.