An exploration of nutrition and eating disabilities in relation to quality of life at 6 months post-stroke

Perry, Lin and McLaren, Susan (2004) An exploration of nutrition and eating disabilities in relation to quality of life at 6 months post-stroke. Health & Social Care In The Community, 12(4), pp. 288-297. ISSN (print) 0966-0410


Quality of life (QoL) is increasingly recognised as an important healthcare outcome, especially for those living with enduring disability. Stroke is a major source of long-term disablement and many aspects of life after stroke have been explored. Little attention has been paid to nutritional issues despite the cultural and hedonistic importance of food and eating, and the deleterious effects of malnutrition. The present study employed an epidemiological survey to investigate the contribution of dietary and nutritional factors in relation to QoL after stroke. The participants were 206 survivors of a cohort of acute stroke patients consecutively admitted to a National Health Service trust hospital in South London, UK, between March 1998 and April 1999. They were interviewed in their homes at 6 months post-stroke. Cognitively or communication-impaired patients were precluded from interview except where a live-in carer participated as a proxy (n = 10). The participation rate for those who were eligible and could be contacted was 206 out of 218 (94%). Participants were assessed using standardised, validated tools for functional abilities in activities of daily living and eating, cognition and mood state, social support and economic indices, nutritional status, dietary intake, and QoL. Overall group scores demonstrated relatively minor degrees of physical disablement; exclusion of those with limited cognition and communication precluded assessment of a small subgroup with greater disablement at hospital discharge. Nonetheless, the overall assessment results were not dissimilar to other reported groups. Indices of poor nutritional status and substantial dietary inadequacy were revealed, linked with reduced appetite and depression. Multiple regression analyses revealed the dominant impact of mood state in relation to QoL scores; additional significant effects were identified for social support, eating-related disabilities and age. The effects of mood and social support are well-recognised, whilst nutrition-related effects have previously received little attention. Intervention in these areas might achieve improvements in survivors' perceived QoL.

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