The psychosocial spiritual experience of elderly individuals recovering from stroke: a systematic review

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Abstract

Objectives

The objective of this review was to appraise and synthesise best available evidence on the psychosocial spiritual experience of elderly individuals recovering from stroke.

Inclusion criteria

This review considered qualitative studies whose participants were adults, mean age of 65 years and older, and who had experienced a minimum of one stroke. Studies were included that described the participant's own experience of recovering from stroke.

Search strategy

The search strategy sought to find both published and unpublished studies and papers, not limited to the English language. An initial limited search of MEDLINE and CINAHL was undertaken followed by an analysis of text words contained in the title and abstract, and of index terms used to describe the article. A second extensive search was then undertaken using all identified key words and index terms.

Methodological quality

Each paper was assessed by two independent reviewers for methodological quality prior to inclusion in the review using the Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument (QARI) developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute. Disagreements were resolved through consultation with a third reviewer.

Data collection

Information was extracted from each paper independently by two reviewers using the data extraction tool from QARI developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute. Disagreements were resolved through consultation with a third reviewer.

Data synthesis

Data synthesis aimed to portray an accurate interpretation and synthesis of concepts arising from the selected population's experience during their recovery from stroke.

Results

A total of 35 studies were identified and of those 27 studies were included in the review. These qualitative studies examined the perceptions of elderly individuals who had experienced a stroke. Findings were analysed using JBI-QARI. The process of meta-synthesis using this program involved categorising findings and developing synthesised topics from the categories. Four syntheses were developed related to the perceptions and experiences of stroke survivors: sudden unexpected event, connectedness, reconstruction of life and life-altering event.

Conclusion

The onset and early period following a stroke is a confusing and terrifying experience. The period of recovery involves considerable psychological and physical work for elderly individuals to reconstruct their lives. For those with a spiritual tradition, connectedness to others and spiritual connection is important during recovery. The experience of stroke is a life-altering one for most elderly individuals, involving profound changes in functioning and sense of self.

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