Uncertain about health outcomes, male stroke survivors more likely to suffer depression than females

September 12, 2012

Post-stroke depression is a major issue affecting approximately 33% of stroke survivors. A new study published in the current issue of Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reports that the level to which survivors are uncertain about the outcome of their illness is strongly linked to depression. The relationship is more pronounced for men than for women.

"Male survivors in the US who subscribe to traditional health-related beliefs may be accustomed to, and value highly, being in control of their health," says lead investigator Michael J. McCarthy, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Health Sciences School of Social Work. "For these individuals, loss of control due to infirmity caused by stroke could be perceived as a loss of power and prestige. These losses, in turn, may result in more distress and greater depressive syndromes."

Thirty-six survivors (16 female, 20 male) who had experienced their first stroke within the preceding 36 months participated in the study. Survivors' and ability to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing and cutting food with a knife and fork, were measured. The degree to which survivors were experiencing health ambiguity, or uncertainty about the outcomes of their illness, was evaluated by their agreement with statements such as "I don't know what's wrong with me," and "I have a lot of questions without answers."

Investigators found health ambiguity was significantly associated with greater depression for both sexes, and the association was stronger for male survivors than for females. "These findings suggest that reducing health ambiguity through proactive communication with patients and family members may be an effective approach for reducing survivor distress and, ultimately, for improving rehabilitation outcomes, Dr. McCarthy says. "The also reinforce the importance of rehabilitation professionals acknowledging that health-related beliefs can have a tangible impact on ."

Dr. McCarthy notes that there was a wide variability in time since diagnosis in the study, and patients were likely at different points in recovery with respect to health ambiguity and depressive syndromes. The small sample size and lack of sample diversity may limit the generalizability of the findings to the broader stroke population. "Future research, with more socioeconomically diverse samples, should examine how gender-based health-related beliefs affect survivor outcomes, and explore the factors that protect female from the harmful effects of health ambiguity," he concludes.

Explore further: What are the long term outcomes following stroke?

More information: "Gender, Health Ambiguity, and Depression among Survivors of First Stroke: A Pilot Study," by M.J. McCarthy, K.S. Lyons, L.E. Powers, and E.A. Bauer. It will appear in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.07.019

Related Stories

What are the long term outcomes following stroke?

May 17, 2011
Despite the recognition of stroke as a major contributor to disability and mortality worldwide, little is known about the long-term outcomes among individuals who survive a stroke. In a research study reported by Charles ...

Stroke caregivers are at risk for depression

July 20, 2012
Caregivers of stroke survivors are at risk for developing depression and complications from chronic stress, according to a study published by researchers at the Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing ...

Depression has big impact on stroke, TIA survivors

March 29, 2012
Depression is more prevalent among stroke and transient ischemic attack survivors than in the general population, researchers reported in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

Recommended for you

History of stress increases miscarriage risk, says new review

August 17, 2017
A history of exposure to psychological stress can increase the risk of miscarriage by upto 42 per cent, according to a new review.

Study finds children pay close attention to potentially threatening information, avoid eye contact when anxious

August 17, 2017
We spend a lot of time looking at the eyes of others for social cues – it helps us understand a person's emotions, and make decisions about how to respond to them. We also know that adults avoid eye contact when anxious. ...

Communicating in a foreign language takes emotion out of decision making

August 16, 2017
If you could save the lives of five people by pushing another bystander in front of a train to his death, would you do it? And should it make any difference if that choice is presented in a language you speak, but isn't your ...

Precision medicine opens the door to scientific wellness preventive approaches to suicide

August 15, 2017
Researchers have developed a more precise way of diagnosing suicide risk, by developing blood tests that work in everybody, as well as more personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality that they have newly ...

US antidepressant use jumps 65 percent in 15 years

August 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—The number of Americans who say they've taken an antidepressant over the past month rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014, a new government survey finds.

Child's home learning environment predicts 5th grade academic skills

August 15, 2017
Children whose parents provide them with learning materials like books and toys and engage them in learning activities and meaningful conversations in infancy and toddlerhood are likely to develop early cognitive skills that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.