The role of subjective cognitive complaints and depressive symptoms in social reintegration following stroke: a mediation explanation in a cross-sectional sample Academic Article uri icon


  • Background For long-term stroke survivors, objective neuropsychological impairments and subjective cognitive difficulties are common, and may contribute to ongoing difficulties in community reintegration. However, subjective cognitive complaints have been as much associated with low mood as with actual cognitive performance. Objective The objective of our study was to investigate the extent to which subjective cognitive complaints predicted community reintegration following a stroke, and whether this relationship would be mediated by emotional status. Methods Using a cross-sectional design, patients with a primary diagnosis of stroke (n = 102; age range 25-89 years) were recruited from the register of a neurological rehabilitation service if they were at least 6 months post-stroke and had been discharged home following the stroke. Exclusions included history of dementia, co-morbid psychiatric or neurological disorder, or significant aphasia. Assessments included the Subjective Cognitive Complaints Questionnaire, the Community Integration Questionnaire, and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale. Results Subjective cognitive complaints were common, with moderate to high levels of complaint most frequent for working memory (58.9%), and information processing speed (53%). Subjective cognitive complaints were significantly associated with social integration (r = -.23, p < .05). However, examination of relationships using statistical mediation revealed that depressive symptoms fully mediated the relationship between subjective cognitive complaints and social integration. Conclusions Subjective cognitive complaints are common in long-term outcome following stroke and predict difficulty in community reintegration. However, this relationship is mediated by variation in emotional status. Therefore, addressing cognitive complaints through cognitive rehabilitation programs that include components to improve mood (for example, building self-efficacy or confidence) may also improve community reintegration post-stroke.

publication date

  • 2018