BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE We compared the incidence and severity of depression at 3 and 12 months after stroke in patients and their chief caregivers (spouses, 63%; children, 37%) in four districts of Finland, two with and two without after-hospital-discharge interventional programs (outpatient rehabilitation and activities of the local divisions of the Finnish Heart Association [FHA]). A population-based stroke register was used, and factors influencing depression were analyzed. METHODS A stroke register of patients recruited over 2 years in four different districts (total population, 134804) in Finland; 594 first-ever strokes were registered. Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI), with 10 as the cutoff point for depression, was applied to 321 of 423 survivors and 195 caregivers at 3 months and to 311 of 390 survivors and 184 caregivers at 12 months in the districts with and without interventional programs. RESULTS At 3 months, fewer patients in the districts with active programs (41%) were depressed than in the control districts (54%) (odds ratio, 0.59; 95% confidence interval, 0.37 to 0.94), and the difference was maintained at 12 months (42% versus 55%) (odds ratio, 0.55; 95% confidence interval, 0.34 to 0.88). Univariate risk factors for depression at 3 months were female sex and severe prognostic score at the onset of stroke (< or = 14 points) on the Scandinavian Stroke Scale (SSS). Only SSS prognostic score and age emerged as significant independent contributors to depression on both linear and logistic multivariate analyses. There was no significant difference in the depression rate of caregivers between districts with active programs (42%) and those without such programs (41%) at 3 months; at 12 months the results were the same (39% in districts with active programs versus 42% in those without such programs). However, at 12 months there were significantly more severely depressed caregivers in districts without active programs than in districts with such programs (P.036). Poor Rankin scale score (grades III through V) and severe SSS long-term score (< or = 42 points) at 3 months among the patients were associated with depression of the caregivers at 3 months in the univariate analysis. Poor Rankin Scale score of the patients was independently associated with the depression of their caregivers at 3 months on multivariate logistic regression analysis. CONCLUSIONS Depression was common among stroke survivors and among their caregivers at 3 months, and its rate did not decrease at 1-year follow-up. The lower depression rate in districts with active programs compared to those without supports the idea that outpatient rehabilitation and support provided by local divisions of the FHA may be an effective way of decreasing the rate of depression after stroke.
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