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Experiences and illness perceptions of patients with functional symptoms admitted to hyperacute stroke wards: A mixed-method study

O’connell, N; Jones, A; Chalder, T; David, AS; (2020) Experiences and illness perceptions of patients with functional symptoms admitted to hyperacute stroke wards: A mixed-method study. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment , 16 pp. 1795-1805. 10.2147/NDT.S251328. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction: A proportion of patients admitted to acute-stroke settings have not had a stroke, but have conditions mimicking a stroke. Approximately 25% of suspected stroke cases are “stroke mimics” and 2% are patients with functional symptoms —“functional stroke mimics”. This study aimed to explore experiences and illness perceptions of patients with functional symptoms admitted to hyperacute stroke wards. Methods: This study used mixed methods. Patients with functional stroke symptoms participated in semistructured qualitative interviews immediately after admission to one of two acute-stroke units in London and again 2 months after hospital discharge. Qualitative data were assessed using thematic analysis. The Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (Brief-IPQ) measured illness perceptions at admission and at 2-month follow-up. Results: A total of 36 participants completed baseline interviews and 25 completed followup. Six themes emerged: physical symptom experience, emotional and coping responses, symptom causes, hospital experiences, views on the future, and uncertainty after hospital discharge. Mean Brief-IPQ score at admission was 49.3 (SD: 9.9), indicating a moderate– high level of perceived illness threat. Participants presented with a range of functional symptoms. At baseline, participants were highly concerned about their symptoms, but this had decreased at 2-month follow-up. Two months later, many were confused as to the cause of their admission. Conclusion: This is the first study to examine functional stroke patients’ experiences of acute-stroke admission. At admission, patients expressed confusion regarding their diagnosis, experienced high levels of emotional distress, and were concerned they were perceived as time wasting by stroke clinicians. While most participants experienced symptom recovery, there was a significant subgroup for whom symptoms persisted or worsened. A lack of care guidelines on the management of functional stroke patients may perpetuate functional symptoms.

Type: Article
Title: Experiences and illness perceptions of patients with functional symptoms admitted to hyperacute stroke wards: A mixed-method study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S251328
Language: English
Additional information: This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.
Keywords: functional stroke symptoms, stroke mimic, unexplained medical symptoms, qualitative research
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106594
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