Content » Vol 47, Issue 7

Original report

Course of social support and relationships between social support and patients’ depressive symptoms in the first 3 years post-stroke

Willeke J. Kruithof, Marcel W.M. Post, Christel M. van Leeuwen, Vera P.M. Schepers, Geertrudis A.M. van den Bos, Johanna M. A. Visser-Meily
Brain Center Rudolf Magnus and Center of Excellence for Rehabilitation Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht and De Hoogstraat Rehabilitation, Utrecht, The Netherlands
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1971


Objective: To describe the course of social support (everyday support, support in problem situations and esteem support) from initial inpatient rehabilitation until 3 years post-stroke and to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships of social support with depressive symptoms.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Subjects: A total of 249 stroke patients.
Methods: Depressive symptoms were measured with the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Perceived social support was assessed with the Social Support List-Interaction. Pearson correlations and multilevel analysis were performed.
Results: More than one-third of participants had depressive symptoms. Social support and its 3 subtypes declined significantly over time. Divergent relationships were found between subtypes of social support and depressive symptoms. Everyday support and esteem support had negative associations with depressive symptoms, whereas support in problem situations had a positive association. Social support in problem situations was a predictor of depressive symptoms over time. No effect-modification by participants with physical or cognitive limitations was found.
Conclusion: Stroke survivors experience a decline in social support over time. Various subtypes of support show distinct relationships with depressive symptoms. Healthcare professionals should focus on the various subtypes of support when supporting patients to improve and maintain an adequate social support network.

Lay Abstract


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