Objectives: To explore whether a group programme for community-dwelling chronic stroke survivors and their carers is feasible in rural settings; to measure the impact of the programme on health-related quality of life and functional performance; and to determine if any benefits gained are maintained. Design: Randomized, assessor blind, cross-over, controlled trial. Setting: Rural outpatient. Subjects: Twenty-five community-dwelling, chronic stroke survivors and 17 carers of participant stroke survivors. Intervention: The intervention group undertook a once-a-week, seven-week group programme combining physical activity, education, self-management principles and a ‘healthy options’ morning tea. At completion, the control group crossed over to receive the intervention. Main measures: Stroke Impact Scale (stroke survivors), Health Impact Scale (carers), Six Minute Walk Test, Timed Up and Go, Caregiver Strain Index. Results: There were insufficient participants for results to reach statistical significance. However between-group trends favoured the intervention group in the majority of outcome measures for stroke survivors and carers. The majority of measures remained above baseline at 12 weeks post programme for stroke survivor participants. The programme was well attended. Of the seven sessions all participants attended four or more and 88% attended six or seven sessions. Conclusions: This novel programme incorporating physical activity, education and social interaction proved feasible to undertake by a stroke-specific multidisciplinary team in three rural Australian settings. This programme may improve and maintain health-related quality of life and physical functioning for chronic stroke survivors and their carers and warrants further investigation.
Clinical Rehabilitation Vol. 24, Issue 4, p. 328-341