Objectives: Few studies have explored the lived experiences of chronic cognitive and mood symptoms following stroke using a racially/ethnically diverse sample. Therefore, we aimed to explore the perceptions of chronic post-stroke cognition and mood symptoms and goals among a racially/ethnically diverse sample of community-dwelling adults aging with stroke. Method: This qualitative study using mixed-methods analysis included semi-structured interviews regarding perceived post-stroke cognitive and mood symptoms among community-dwelling stroke survivors at least one-year post stroke. Transcripts were subjected to thematic content analysis, and differences in theme usage patterns by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and post-acute rehabilitation setting were assessed using an inferential clustering technique. Results: The majority of participants (93%) reported cognition-related themes, including language and communication, memory, thinking abilities, comprehension, visual-spatial processing, and cognitive assessments and training. Nearly half of participants mentioned mood-related themes, including depression, aggression and anger, mood fluctuations, anxiety, and psychological services and medication. Nearly half reported an unmet need for cognition or mood-related treatment. Inferential clustering analysis revealed that older participants reported a different pattern of cognitive and mood symptoms than those aged younger than 65 (p = 0.02). Older adults were more likely to describe post-stroke language/communication changes, while younger adults described post-stroke mood changes. Conclusion: Stroke survivors experienced cognitive and mood-related symptoms beyond one-year post stroke, which has implications for long-term assessment and management. Incorporation of continued symptom monitoring into existing community-based services is needed to address chronic cognitive and mood symptoms affecting the quality of life of persons with stroke.
Keywords: Cognition; psychological and behavioral symptoms; qualitative methods; quality of life/wellbeing; stroke.