The experience of living with stroke: a qualitative meta-synthesis

J Rehabil Med. 2008 Aug;40(8):595-602. doi: 10.2340/16501977-0238.


Objective: The effects of stroke on stroke survivors are profound and cannot adequately be understood from a single approach or point of view. Use of qualitative study, in addition to quantitative research, provides a comprehensive picture of the consequences of stroke grounded in the experience of stroke survivors. The purpose of the present study was to examine the contribution of the published qualitative literature to our understanding of the experience of living with stroke.

Design: Qualitative meta-synthesis.

Method: A literature search was conducted to identify qualitative studies focused on the experience of living with stroke. Themes and supporting interpretations from each study were compiled and reviewed independently by 2 research assistants in order to identify recurring themes and facilitate interpretation across studies.

Results: From 9 qualitative studies, 5 inter-related themes were identified as follows: (i) Change, Transition and Transformation, (ii) Loss, (iii) Uncertainty, (iv) Social Isolation, (v) Adaptation and Reconciliation.

Conclusion: The present synthesis suggests the sudden, overwhelming transformation of stroke forms a background for loss, uncertainty and social isolation. However, stroke survivors may move forward through adaptation towards recovery. Meta-synthesis of qualitative research is needed to promote the inclusion of what we know about patient preferences and values in evidence-based practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Social Isolation
  • Stroke / psychology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation