Fear of recurrence and beliefs about preventing recurrence in persons who have suffered a stroke.
Townend E., Tinson D., Kwan J., Sharpe M.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate fear of recurrent stroke and beliefs about its causes and prevention. METHODS: Eighty-nine patients participated 1 month following stroke and 81 were followed up at 9 months. Interviews addressed fears and beliefs about stroke, causes, recurrence and prevention by using closed and open-ended questions. Responses were subject to quantitative and qualitative analysis, respectively. RESULTS: Fear of recurrence was common. Profound disability was a particularly feared outcome. Participants were knowledgeable about causes. However, causal controllability ratings were low. Some reported concern about preventative strategies (e.g., difficulty stopping smoking). Many reported idiosyncratic beliefs (e.g., avoiding overexertion) or fatalistic ideas about strokes (e.g., 'nothing' can prevent them). Similar quantitative results were obtained at follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Many patients fear stroke recurrence. They lack a sense of control over causes and have fears associated with idiosyncratic and fatalistic beliefs. There is a need to elicit and address individuals' own fears and beliefs about stroke before providing evidence-based secondary prevention recommendations.