What Factors Predict Who Will Have a Strong Social Network Following a Stroke? Purpose Measures of social networks assess the number and nature of a person's social contacts, and strongly predict health outcomes. We explored how social networks change following a stroke and analyzed concurrent and baseline predictors of social networks 6 months poststroke. Method We conducted a prospective longitudinal observational ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2016
What Factors Predict Who Will Have a Strong Social Network Following a Stroke?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sarah Northcott
    School of Health Sciences, City University London, United Kingdom
  • Jane Marshall
    School of Health Sciences, City University London, United Kingdom
  • Katerina Hilari
    School of Health Sciences, City University London, United Kingdom
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Sarah Northcott: S.A.J.Northcott@city.ac.uk
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson
    Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson×
Article Information
Special Populations / Language Disorders / Aphasia / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2016
What Factors Predict Who Will Have a Strong Social Network Following a Stroke?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2016, Vol. 59, 772-783. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0201
History: Received June 6, 2015 , Revised October 13, 2015 , Accepted January 9, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2016, Vol. 59, 772-783. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0201
History: Received June 6, 2015; Revised October 13, 2015; Accepted January 9, 2016
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

Purpose Measures of social networks assess the number and nature of a person's social contacts, and strongly predict health outcomes. We explored how social networks change following a stroke and analyzed concurrent and baseline predictors of social networks 6 months poststroke.

Method We conducted a prospective longitudinal observational study. Participants were assessed 2 weeks (baseline), 3 months, and 6 months poststroke. Measures comprised the Stroke Social Network Scale (Northcott & Hilari, 2013), Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (Sherbourne & Stewart, 1991), National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (Brott et al., 1989), Frenchay Aphasia Screening Test (Enderby, Wood, Wade, & Langton Hewer, 1987), Frenchay Activities Index (Wade, Legh-Smith, & Langton Hewer, 1985), and Barthel Index (Mahoney, Wood, & Barthel, 1958). Analyses of variance and standard multiple regression were used to analyze change and identify predictors.

Results Eighty-seven participants (37% with aphasia) were recruited; 71 (16% with aphasia) were followed up at 6 months. Social network scores declined poststroke (p = .001). Whereas the Children and Relatives factors remained stable, the Friends factor significantly weakened (p < .001). Concurrent predictors of social network at 6 months were perceived social support, ethnicity, aphasia, and extended activities of daily living (adjusted R 2 = .42). There were 2 baseline predictors: premorbid social network and aphasia (adjusted R 2 = .60).

Conclusions Social networks declined poststroke. Aphasia was the only stroke-related factor measured at the time of the stroke that predicted social network 6 months later.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by a Consortium for Healthcare Research of the Health Foundation grant, awarded to Katerina Hilari. We would like to thank Alice Lamb for her help in collecting data, and the stroke-unit teams of St. Mary's Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital. As a final note, we are grateful to the participants, without whom this project would not have been possible.
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