Study Establishes International Standards for Stroke Outcomes

Dec. 21, 2015

stroke CT scanA new study by an international team of researchers has established a set of outcome measures that assess a patient’s quality of life after a stroke.

The new measures were developed by a working group – which included Adam Kelly, M.D. with the UR Medicine Stroke Center – consisting of stroke patients, neurologists, and specialists in all phases of stroke care.  Stroke experts from North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia participated in the study which appeared this month in the journal Stroke

Current measures of the quality of care in the U.S. are primarily based on guidelines established by organizations such as the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the Joint Commission that certify hospitals as stroke centers.  For the most part, these measures are focused on processes, or steps that providers take in the delivery of care both during and after a stroke.  These measures range from timely care in the Emergency Department, to steps taken to reduce stroke risk once the patient is discharged, including controlling their cholesterol, prescribing appropriate blood thinning medications, and smoking cessation.

The new recommendations expand upon these measures to include outcomes that focus on how an ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage has impacted an individual’s quality of life.  These consist of patient-reported measures such as mobility, whether they need help getting dressed, eating, or going to the bathroom, difficulties with memory or the ability to communicate, and depression or social withdrawal. 

The new measures were designed to be both patient-centered and universal in nature; meaning that the information was not dependent upon expensive technologies such as MRI’s and could therefore be applied to hospitals and clinics across the globe.

The study represents the first step of process that the authors hope will result in the adoption of the recommendations by hospitals and stroke accreditation organizations as a more effective method to measure the quality of stroke care.   Additionally, tracking this information will, over time, enable researchers to associate outcomes with treatment options and help improve care.