Background: Depression following an acute ischemic stroke (AIS) is associated with poor functional recovery, less social activity, and mortality. Patterns of health service use in the 90 days after an AIS have not been described by depression severity.
Methods: Data from Get With The Guidelines-Stroke and a prospective cohort of AIS patients enrolled in the AVAIL (Adherence eValuation After Ischemic Stroke Longitudinal) study were linked with Medicare claims. AVAIL patients depressive symptoms were measured by the PHQ-8 90 days after hospital discharge by phone and categorized as no/minimal depression (0-4), mild (5-9), and moderate-severe (≥10). The number of transitions was defined as the number of acute and post-acute inpatient and outpatient services in the claims data within 90 days of the index admission. Home-time was the number of days alive and out of inpatient care. Differences in clinical characteristics and service use were evaluated between depression severity groups.
Results: Of 538 AIS patients examined, 63% had no/minimal depression, 24% mild and 14% had moderate-severe depression 90-days post-stroke. Patients experienced up to 6 care transitions in 90-days; the 10 most common care patterns representing 80% of this sample (Figure). Across categories of increasing depression severity (no/minimal, mild, moderate-severe), use of services increased from no/minimal to those with depression (% with ≥1 service after discharge: 71%, 87%, 85%; p=0.002), and home time decreased (mean±SD: 82±16, 75±23, 77±23; p=0.006), although rehospitalization within 90 days was 19% for each group (p=0.984).
Conclusion: This study demonstrates an association between post-stroke depression and worse outcomes following stroke. Research is needed to determine whether targeted care coordination interventions can improve outcomes among stroke patients with depression.