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Judith Covey, Adam J. Noble and Thomas Schenk

Object

Patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and their close friends and family may be excessively fearful that the patient will have a recurrence, and such fears could play a critical role in the poor recovery shown by many patients The authors examined whether these fears could account for significant variance in psychosocial outcomes.

Methods

The authors prospectively studied a sample of 69 patients with SAH alongside their spouse, other family member, and/or close friend identified as their significant other (SO). The patient/SO pairs were assessed at 13 months postictus for their fears of recurrence and for health-related quality of life on the 8 domains of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey.

Results

The SOs were found to be significantly more fearful of SAH recurrence than the patients. The SO's fears also explained unique variance in the patient's recovery on 4 of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey domains over and above the patient's own fears, demographic and/or neurological variables, and the patient's history of psychiatric or neurological problems. The domains affected reflected activity-based and functional aspects of the patient's quality of life as opposed to more general characteristics of their emotional well-being or physical health state.

Conclusions

The patient's recovery may be compromised if their spouse, close family, and/or friends are excessively fearful about their suffering a recurrence. Perhaps the SO's fears cause them to be overprotective of the patient and to restrict their day-to-day activities. Attention must therefore be given to the experience of having a loved one suffer from an SAH, and alleviating the caregiver's fears could help to promote a better outcome for the patient.

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Roberto C. Heros