• An Exploration of the Perceptions of Psychological Support following Stroke from the Perspectives of Stroke Survivors, Carers and Family Members

      Cousins, Margaret; Nelson, Fiona J. (University of Chester, 2016)
      Psychological consequences of stroke are prevalent and associated with reduction in participation, physical outcomes and quality of life as well as increased morbidity and mortality. Guideline documentation on psychological support following stroke focuses on service provision to maximise access. However, little attention is paid to factors governing service acceptance. This study explored the perceptions of psychological support from the perspectives of stroke survivors, informal carers and family members. This was achieved through exploring participants’ understanding of ‘psychological support’ and their previous experiences as well understanding of the purpose of such support. A qualitative methodological approach was adopted using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions to collect data. Thematic analysis of data was carried out. Sampling was purposive to identify potential participants, of which there were 19 including stroke survivors (9), informal carers (8) and family members (2). Many intrinsic as well as social factors were found to influence perceptions of psychological support including lack of understanding of what is involved and barriers such as use of the word ‘psychology’ and stigma related to mental health. This study highlighted the importance for those working with stroke survivors, carers and family members to recognise how perceptions of psychological support may be formed through an individual’s level of understanding, prior experiences and social influence. Choice of terminology and clarity of explanation of ‘psychological support’ may influence decisions to accept or seek support following stroke. Therefore, working practices should be adapted to maximise access.