What are the important factors in health-related quality of life for people with aphasia? A systematic review

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Jan;93(1 Suppl):S86-95. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2011.05.028. Epub 2011 Nov 25.


Objective: To determine factors associated with or predictive of poor health-related quality of life (HRQL) in people with aphasia poststroke. Better understanding of these factors can allow better targeting of rehabilitation programs.

Data sources: Electronic databases, covering medical (eg, Medline, Excerpta Medica Database, Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Ovid, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database) and social sciences (eg, PsycINFO) were searched and key experts were approached.

Study selection: Studies including specific information on the HRQL of people with aphasia poststroke using validated HRQL measures or established ways of analyzing qualitative data were included. Two reviewers independently screened studies against the eligibility criteria.

Data extraction: This was undertaken independently by 2 reviewers. Discrepancies were resolved by consensus. Quantitative studies were assessed for quality with Counsell and Dennis' critical appraisal tool for systematic review of prognostic models in acute stroke; qualitative studies with the Critical Appraisal Skills Program tool for qualitative research.

Data synthesis: Fourteen research reports met the eligibility criteria. Because of their high heterogeneity, the data synthesis was narrative. The evidence is not strong enough to determine the main predictors of HRQL in people with aphasia. Still, emotional distress/depression, severity of aphasia and communication disability, other medical problems, activity limitations, and aspects of social network and support were important factors.

Conclusions: Emotional distress, aphasia severity, communication and activity limitations, other medical problems, and social factors affect HRQL. Stroke HRQL studies need to include people with aphasia and report separately on them, in order to determine the main predictors of their HRQL and to identify what interventions can best address them.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / etiology*
  • Aphasia / psychology*
  • Communication
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / psychology*