Web program improves life after stroke

Stroke survivors who participated in an online, interactive program suggesting healthy lifestyle options are showing improved health outcomes.

Researchers found stroke survivors using the online service urging them to set health goals and monitor their own progress, reported a ‘higher health-related quality’ of life after six months, compared to a control group who were given only generic health information. 

The study, conducted by the University of Newcastle and Flinders University, concluded the findings demonstrated the strength of web-based programs in treating people who had suffered a stroke.

“Online platforms are a viable and impactful model to address the health information needs and behaviour change challenges of stroke survivors,” study lead Ashleigh Guillaumier said.

Senior author Billie Bonevski said the program’s effectiveness was a culmination of eight years of research and they now plan to scale up their Prevent 2nd Stroke program so it can benefit more stroke survivors.

People who suffer and survive stroke can go on to have serious physical and cognitive disabilities.

However, improving various lifestyle factors can improve stroke sufferers’ quality of life, including cutting tobacco and alcohol use and improving diet and exercise.

The P2S program encourages users to set health goals and monitor their own progress.

The randomised control trial involved some 339 stroke survivors being either placed on the P2S online program for 12 weeks, or being randomly assigned a list of generic health websites.

People assigned to P2S were also sent text prompts urging them to continue using the program.

In a follow up survey six months on, researchers found those who used P2S had a higher health-related quality of life score than those given generic health information.

A significantly higher proportion of the group using P2S also said they had no problems with going about daily activities and personal care.

The scope of the study was limited by all participants being considered “well” stroke survivors, and having little to no disability within the cohort, Dr Guillaumier and Prof Bonevski said.

The study was published in journal PLOS Medicine on Wednesday, and funded in part by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the National Heart Foundation.


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