The objective of this study was to explore the long-term experience of community-dwelling stroke survivors and identify influences on occupational engagement after stroke. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 participants and a grounded theory approach was used for data analysis. Six men and 6 women between 42 and 92 years of age participated in this study. Time post-stroke varied between 1, 3, and 5 years. The findings identified three key themes from the data. The core theme “I can’t” described changes in occupational engagement. The core theme “I feel” identified feelings associated with managing struggles in life as a result of stroke. The core theme “But now” identified modulating factors in adjustment to the experience of stroke. A concerning finding for the health system was the extent of depressive symptomatology attributed to reduced occupational engagement. This calls for improved assessment and education regarding mood changes post-stroke and should be underpinned by interventions. The essential role of occupational therapists in this context is to provide support and education regarding mood changes and to promote participation after stroke.
OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health Vol. 28, Issue 4, p. 160-167