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Longitudinal evaluation of cognition after stroke – A systematic scoping review

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Background: Cognitive impairment affects up to 80 percent of the stroke population, however, both the available evidence about post-stroke cognition and the measures used to evaluate it longitudinally have not been well described. The aims of this systematic scoping review were: to identify and characterize studies evaluating cognition longitudinally after stroke; to summarize the cognitive instruments used and the domains they target; and to organize cognitive domains assessed using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).
Methods: We used a systematic scoping approach to search for peer-reviewed articles involving adults with stroke that evaluated cognition longitudinally. Screening of titles, abstracts, and full reports was completed independently by two reviewers, across six electronic databases (PubMed, PsycInfo, Medline, Cinahl Plus, Embase, and Web of Science). Cognitive domains were mapped to an ICF function independently by the same two reviewers, using a previously tested, standardized approach.
Results: A total of 5,540 records were found; 257 were included, representing a total pooled sample of 120,860 stroke survivors. Of these studies, 200 (78%) provided specific cognitive outcomes from the longitudinal evaluations, 57 (22%) reported model predictions, and 77 (30%) included interventions. Cognition was evaluated with 356 unique instruments, targeting 95 distinct cognitive domains, and 17 mental functions from the ICF. The Mini-Mental State Examination was the most frequently used instrument (117 reports, 46%). Other tools used longitudinally were the Trail Making Test (17% of reports), tests of verbal fluency (14%), the Functional Independence Measure (14%), the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (13%), the Digit Span (11%), and the Stroop test (10%). Global cognition was evaluated in 170 reports (66%), followed by higher-level cognitive functioning (29%), memory (28%), language (21%), attention (21%), and perceptual skills (14%). Studies using functional (or performance-based) cognitive assessments over time were scarce (< 1%). Conclusion: Our findings indicate that whilst there is a substantial number of studies available that report longitudinal evaluations of cognition after stroke, there is large variability in the measures used and the cognitive domains they target. Nonetheless, the available data for evaluation of cognition over time after stroke can be organized and described systematically.


LC, JPS, and CB report funding from the James S. McDonnell Foundation (21st Century Science Initiative in Cognitive Rehabilitation - Collaborative Award #220020413); LC also acknowledges funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Stroke Rehabilitation and Brain Recovery (grant numbers 1077898 and 1153236); and JPS reports funding from La Trobe University (La Trobe University Postgraduate Research Scholarship - LTUPRS).


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