What factors predict who will have a strong social network following a stroke?

Sarah Northcott, Jane Marshall, Katerina Hilari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Measures of social networks assess the number and nature of a person's social contacts, and strongly predict health outcomes. We explored how social networks change following a stroke and analyzed concurrent and baseline predictors of social networks 6 months poststroke. Method We conducted a prospective longitudinal observational study. Participants were assessed 2 weeks (baseline), 3 months, and 6 months poststroke. Measures comprised the Stroke Social Network Scale (Northcott & Hilari, 2013), Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (Sherbourne & Stewart, 1991), National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (Brott et al., 1989), Frenchay Aphasia Screening Test (Enderby, Wood, Wade, & Langton Hewer, 1987), Frenchay Activities Index (Wade, Legh-Smith, & Langton Hewer, 1985), and Barthel Index (Mahoney, Wood, & Barthel, 1958). Analyses of variance and standard multiple regression were used to analyze change and identify predictors. Results Eighty-seven participants (37% with aphasia) were recruited; 71 (16% with aphasia) were followed up at 6 months. Social network scores declined poststroke (p = .001). Whereas the Children and Relatives factors remained stable, the Friends factor significantly weakened (p < .001). Concurrent predictors of social network at 6 months were perceived social support, ethnicity, aphasia, and extended activities of daily living (adjusted R2 = .42). There were 2 baseline predictors: premorbid social network and aphasia (adjusted R2 = .60). Conclusions Social networks declined poststroke. Aphasia was the only stroke-related factor measured at the time of the stroke that predicted social network 6 months later.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-783
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

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