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OBJECTIVES: Clinical guidelines recommend early cognitive assessment after stroke to inform rehabilitation and discharge decisions. However, little is known about stroke survivors' experiences of the cognitive assessment process. This qualitative study aimed to explore patients' experiences of poststroke cognitive assessments. DESIGN: Stroke survivors were purposively sampled in an iterative process through a pool of research volunteers who had previously taken part in the Oxford Cognitive Screen Recovery study. Stroke survivors and their family caregivers were invited to participate in a semistructured interview steered by a topic guide. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Demographic, clinical and cognitive data were acquired from patients' previous research data. SETTING: Stroke survivors were originally recruited from the acute inpatient unit at Oxford University Hospital (John Radcliffe), UK. Participants were interviewed after discharge either at their homes or via telephone or videocall. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-six stroke survivors and eleven caregivers participated in semi-structured interviews. RESULTS: We identified three key phases of the cognitive assessment process and themes pertaining to each phase. The phases (numbered) and themes (lettered) were as follows: (1) before the cognitive assessment: (A) lack of explanation, (B) considering the assessment useless; (2) during the cognitive assessment: varied emotional responses, moderated by (D) perception of the purpose behind cognitive assessment, (E) perception of cognitive impairment, (F) confidence in cognitive abilities, (G) assessment administration style and (3) after the cognitive assessment: (H) feedback can impact self-confidence and self-efficacy, (I) vague feedback and clinical jargon are unhelpful. CONCLUSIONS: Stroke survivors require clear explanations about the purpose and outcomes of poststroke cognitive assessments, including constructive feedback, to promote engagement with the process and protect their psychological wellbeing.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





qualitative research, stroke, stroke medicine, Humans, Inpatients, Qualitative Research, Medicine, Records, Cognition