Mentoring in acute stroke : evaluation of an information provision strategy for stroke survivors and carers

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Stroke survivors and their carers face a multitude of challenges. Literature suggests the need for new approaches to address an identified lack in the provision of information following discharge from hospital. This exploratory study evaluates the effects of a program using stroke survivors and their carers (defined as mentors) to provide information on available services and resources to current stroke in-patients and their carers in an acute setting. Mentoring has been successfully used in breast cancer, ischaemic heart disease and traumatic brain injury but an extensive literature search has found no evidence of evaluation of this form of intervention in acute stroke. Using Fourth Generation Evaluation and mixed methods, data was collected from three stakeholder groups. Semi structured interviews were conducted with the inpatients and carers at 48hrs and 4 weeks post meeting the mentors. Data was transcribed and thematically analysed and the primary themes identified were: there is life after stroke, providing hope and understanding, and easing the burden of stroke. Focus groups (4) conducted with the mentors (3) and members of the Acute Stroke Team (1) were used to identify claims, concerns and issues. Mentors identified that the experience was beneficial for them and that they gained personal growth from the experience. The Acute Stroke Team identified positive aspects of the program and provided valuable input into the development of an agenda for future programs. This research confirms that mentoring can provide positive benefits for stroke survivors and their carers.
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