Rehabilitation Interventions for Improving Social Participation After Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2016 May;30(4):384-92. doi: 10.1177/1545968315597072. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Background: Despite the fact that social participation is considered a pivotal outcome of a successful recovery after stroke, there has been little attention on the impact of activities and services on this important domain.

Objective: To present a systematic review and meta-analysis from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effects of rehabilitation interventions on social participation after stroke.

Methods: A total of 8 electronic databases were searched for relevant RCTs that evaluated the effects of an intervention on the outcome of social participation after stroke. Reference lists of selected articles were hand searched to identify further relevant studies. The methodological quality of the studies was assessed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database Scale. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) and confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using fixed- and random-effect models.

Results: In all, 24 RCTs involving 2042 stroke survivors were identified and reviewed, and 21 were included in the meta-analysis. There was a small beneficial effect of interventions that utilized exercise on social participation (10 studies; SMD = 0.43; 95% CI = 0.09, 0.78;P= .01) immediately after the program ended. Exercise in combination with other interventions (13 studies; SMD = 0.34; 95% CI = 0.10, 0.58;P= .006) also resulted in beneficial effects. No significant effect was observed for interventions that involved support services over 9 studies (SMD = 0.09 [95% CI = -0.04, 0.21];I(2)= 0%;P= .16).

Conclusions: The included studies provide evidence that rehabilitation interventions may be effective in improving social participation after stroke, especially if exercise is one of the components.

Keywords: exercise; quality of life; rehabilitation; social participation; stroke.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Social Participation*
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods*