Factors associated with mental health service access among Australian community-dwelling survivors of stroke

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Purpose: To describe types of mental health treatment accessed by community-based stroke survivors and factors associated with access. Methods: A sub-group of registrants from the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry completed a supplementary survey 2.5 years post-stroke. Self-reported information about depression/anxiety and treatment access were collected. Demographic and clinical data were obtained through linkages with registry and government data. Staged multivariable logistic regression was conducted to examine factors associated with treatment access. Results: Among 623 registrants surveyed (37% female, median age 69 years), 26% self-reported a medical diagnosis of depression/anxiety at 2.5 years post-stroke. Of these, only 30% reported having accessed mental health services, mostly through government-funded Medicare schemes. Younger age (odds ratio (OR) 0.95, 95% CI 0.93, 0.98), history of mental health treatment (OR 3.38, 95% CI 1.35, 8.48), feeling socially isolated (OR 2.32, 95% CI 1.16, 4.66), self-reported medical diagnosis of depression/anxiety (OR 4.85, 95% CI 2.32, 10.14), and government-subsidised team care plan arrangement (OR 4.05, 95% CI 1.96, 8.37) were associated with receiving treatment. Conclusions: Many stroke survivors have untreated depression/anxiety. Primary care practitioners should be supported in undertaking effective detection and management. Older and newly diagnosed individuals should be educated about depression/anxiety and available supports.Implications for rehabilitation Primary care providers play a pivotal role in the pathway to mental health care, and therefore should always screen for depression/anxiety and provide comprehensive assessment and referral to specialist services where necessary. Targeted psychoeducation should be provided to survivors of stroke who are older and newly diagnosed with depression/anxiety, to increase awareness about mood problems following stroke. Primary care providers should collaborate with other health professionals (e.g., through coordinating a team care arrangement plan), to address patients’ multiple and complex rehabilitation needs. Rehabilitation professionals should remain informed about current evidence-based treatments for post-stroke depression/anxiety and pathways that enable their patients to access these services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504–511
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • anxiety
  • barriers
  • depression
  • facilitators
  • Stroke
  • treatment

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