Review Article

The relationship between social support and participation in stroke: A systematic review

Toughieda Elloker, Anthea J. Rhoda
African Journal of Disability | Vol 7 | a357 | DOI: | © 2018 Toughieda Elloker, Anthea J. Rhoda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 December 2016 | Published: 10 October 2018

About the author(s)

Toughieda Elloker, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Anthea J. Rhoda, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, South Africa


Background: The incidence of cerebrovascular accidents with its devastating effects on individuals is increasing. Post-stroke, restrictions in participation are common and social support could have an influence on this. Social support provided to individuals post-stroke is vital, but the relationship between social support and participation is not well understood.

Objectives: This review aimed to systematically determine the relationship between social support and participation post-stroke, based on the literature available.

Method: Ebscohost, Science Direct, Biomed Central, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, Pedro Central and Wiley Online were the electronic databases searched between 2001 and 2016. Articles were deemed to be eligible if they met the inclusion criteria and successfully underwent scrutiny to determine their relevance and methodological quality, using tools from the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme and Milton Keynes Primary Trust. A narrative synthesis method was used to analyse the included studies.

Results: A total of 54 articles were identified after screening, and six articles were deemed eligible for inclusion. The articles consisted of cross-sectional, qualitative and cohort studies. Articles showed distinct, significant relationships between social support and participation where the quality and quantity of social support were important. High levels of social support had a positive influence on participation, social and leisure activities, as well as returning to work post-stroke.

Conclusion: A positive relationship exists between social support and participation post-stroke. Health professionals need to include social support interventions when attempting to manage the individual with stroke holistically, as this will have positive effects on participation.


Stroke; Recovery; Social Support; Participation


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