UK stroke patients have 'lower quality of life'

Stroke patients in the UK and Ireland have lower health-related quality of life regarding physical outcomes than patients elsewhere in the world, study findings have shown.

Analysis of data collected for the TAIST trial - which compared tinzaparin with aspirin - has shown marked differences between the British Isles and the rest of Europe.

The study earlier this month measured quality of life 180 days into the trial using the short-form 36 (SF-36), which looks at both physical and mental wellbeing. Overall, 1,220 stroke patients were included.

Compared with the UK and Ireland, quality of life in the physical domain was 400 per cent better in Germany and the Netherlands and 77 per cent higher in France and Belgium, Laura Gray from the University of Nottingham, told delegates at the European Stroke Conference in Nice, France, earlier this month.

Similarly, social functioning was 340 per cent higher in Scandinavia and 75 per cent higher in France and Belgium.

Only in emotional role and mental health did the UK and Ireland show some strength.

However, the cause of these differences remains unclear, said Ms Gray. It could be due to differences between healthcare systems, management of patients or even patient expectations and interpretation of the SF-36.

Speaking about the role of primary care in stroke care, Dr Tony Rudd, chairman of the Intercollegiate Stroke Group at the Royal College of Physicians, said that GP care for stroke patients had improved since the GMS contract was introduced in 2004.

‘But around the areas being measured in the quality framework, and if you go beyond that you can't see those changes,' he said. ‘While there's no extra funding to ensure that patients discharged from hospital getting proper community rehab its always going to be a problem.'

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