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Exploring stroke survivors' and physiotherapists' views of self-management after stroke: a qualitative study in the UK


Objectives Stroke is a sudden-onset condition with long-term consequences. Self-management could help address long-term consequences of stroke. Stroke survivors' and health professionals' views of self-management may vary, limiting the successful introduction of self-management strategies. This paper explores stroke survivors' and physiotherapists' views of self-management, focusing on what self-management means, and factors perceived to enable and hinder self-management after stroke, to draw out implications for policy, practice and future research.

Design Qualitative study using semistructured interviews and a thematic analysis approach.

Setting Stroke unit and community stroke-rehabilitation services in London, UK.

Participants 13 stroke survivors (8 men and 5 women; aged 53–89 years) admitted to a London stroke unit. 13 physiotherapists: 8 working in an inpatient stroke unit and 5 in community rehabilitation.

Results Key differences were evident in how self-management was understood between these groups. Stroke survivors were unfamiliar with the term self-management, but most could provide their own definition and relate to the term, and understood it as care of the self: ‘doing things for yourself’ and ‘looking after yourself’. They did not recognise self-management as part of their care, but valued therapists as encouraging experts in supporting their recovery after stroke. Physiotherapists commonly understood self-management as a process in which stroke survivors were expected to take an active role in their rehabilitation and manage their recovery and health, with different understandings of self-management among physiotherapists shaped by the context in which they worked. They reported that individual, social and organisational factors enable and hinder self-management after stroke, with individual and organisational barriers particularly evident in the early stages.

Conclusions If self-management support approaches are to be used, further work is required to explore the language and strategies used by professionals to support self-management, and the barriers to supporting self-management at different time points after stroke.

  • self-management

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  • Contributors ES conceived the idea for the study and designed the study with CM. ES was the principal investigator and led on the data collection and analysis and earlier drafts of the manuscript. CM, CDAW and FJ reviewed the manuscript and made recommendations for changes.

  • Funding This work was funded by a Stroke Association Senior Research Training Fellowship awarded to ES (reference number: TSA SRTF 2011/01).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval National Research Ethics Service-London-Dulwich committee (REC: 11/LO/1813).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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