Volume 35, Issue 2 ,2015

Aggressive surgical interventions for severe stroke: Impact on quality of life, caregiver burden and family outcomes
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By Theresa Green, RN, PhD


Introduction: Decompressive hemicraniectomy, clot evacuation, and aneurysmal interventions are considered aggressive surgical therapeutic options for treatment of massive cerebral artery infarction (MCA), intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), and severe subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) respectively. Although these procedures are saving lives, little is actually known about the impact on outcomes other than short-term survival and functional status. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of personal and social consequences of surviving these aggressive surgical interventions in order to aid acute care clinicians in helping family members make difficult decisions about undertaking such interventions.

Methods: An exploratory mixed method study using a convergent parallel design was conducted to examine functional recovery (NIHSS, mRS & BI), cognitive status (Montreal Cognitive Assessment Scale, MoCA), quality of life (Euroqol 5-D), and caregiver outcomes (Bakas Caregiver Outcome Scale, BCOS) in a cohort of patients and families who had undergone aggressive surgical intervention for severe stroke between the years 2000–2007. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate analysis of variance, and multivariate logistic regression. Content analysis was used to analyze the qualitative interviews conducted with stroke survivors and family members.

Results: Twenty-seven patients and 13 spouses participated in this study. Based on patient MOCA scores, overall cognitive status was 25.18 (range 23.4-26.9); current functional outcomes scores: NIHSS 2.22, mRS 1.74, and BI 88.5. EQ-5D scores revealed no significant differences between patients and caregivers (p=0.585) and caregiver outcomes revealed no significant differences between male/female caregivers or patient diagnostic group (MCA, SAH, ICH; p=""0.103).<"/span><"/span>

Discussion: Overall, patients and families were satisfied with quality of life and decisions made at the time of the initial stroke. There was consensus among study participants that formal community-based support (e.g., handibus, caregiving relief, rehabilitation assessments) should be continued for extended periods (e.g., years) post-stroke. Ongoing contact with health care professionals is valuable to help them navigate in the community as needs change over time.