Perspectives on rehabilitation for Aboriginal people with stroke: a qualitative study

Janet Kelly, Anna Dowling, Susan Hillier, Alex Brown, Timothy Kleinig, Kendall Goldsmith, Katharine McBride, Jeyaraj Pandian, Sally Castle, Amanda G. Thrift*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereinafter respectfully termed Aboriginal) people have a greater incidence of stroke at a younger age than non-Indigenous people in Australia. The needs and preferences of Aboriginal people for rehabilitation and longer-term support remain largely unknown. Objectives: To identify the long-term rehabilitation needs of Aboriginal people who have a stroke, from the perspectives of Aboriginal persons with stroke and health care providers. Methods: Aboriginal people who had experienced stroke in the previous three years were interviewed to obtain their experiences of rehabilitation care. Health professionals who provided care in each of six designated hospitals and nearby community health sites were involved in focus groups and individual interviews. Information obtained was thematically analyzed separately for Aboriginal people with stroke and health professionals, and compared using Nvivo. Results: Among six Aboriginal people with stroke and 78 healthcare providers, four main themes emerged: the importance of family; variable access to services; the impact of stroke on Aboriginal peoples’ lives; and making positive choices. Communication and involvement of family was highlighted as essential for a shared understanding, particularly when making decisions about participating in short and long-term rehabilitation. Co–morbidities, conflicting priorities, and inadequate or inflexible services and transport compounded issues with changing life roles. Stories of resilience were also shared. Conclusions: Aboriginal people report making positive lifestyle changes, but experience significant unmet rehabilitation needs. Addressing issues of communication, advocacy and flexible delivery should improve some of the shortfalls in service provision, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-309
Number of pages15
JournalTopics in Stroke Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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