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A typology to explain changing social networks post stroke

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Abstract

Background and Objectives

Social network typologies have been used to classify the general population but have not previously been applied to the stroke population. This study investigated whether social network types remain stable following a stroke, and if not, why some people shift network type.

Research Design and Methods
We used a mixed methods design. Participants were recruited from two acute stroke units. They completed the Stroke Social Network Scale (SSNS) two weeks and six months post stroke and in-depth interviews 8–15 months following the stroke. Qualitative data was analysed using Framework Analysis; k-means cluster analysis was applied to the six-month data set.

Results
Eighty-seven participants were recruited, 71 were followed up at six months, and 29 completed in-depth interviews. It was possible to classify all 29 participants into one of the following network types both prestroke and post stroke: diverse; friends-based; family-based; restricted-supported; restricted-unsupported. The main shift that took place post stroke was participants moving out of a diverse network into a family-based one. The friends-based network type was relatively stable. Two network types became more populated post stroke: restricted-unsupported and family-based. Triangulatory evidence was provided by k-means cluster analysis, which produced a cluster solution (for n = 71) with comparable characteristics to the network types derived from qualitative analysis.

Discussion and Implications
Following a stroke, a person’s social network is vulnerable to change. Explanatory factors for shifting network type included the physical and also psychological impact of having a stroke, as well as the tendency to lose contact with friends rather than family.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-511
Number of pages12
JournalThe Gerontologist
Volume58
Issue number3
Early online date14 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Peer-reviewedYes

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