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Emotion processing and social participation following stroke: study protocol

Clare L Scott145*, Louise H Phillips24, Marie Johnston34, Maggie M Whyte24 and Mary J MacLeod24

Author Affiliations

1 Rowett Institute, Greenburn Road, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB21 9SB, UK

2 School of Psychology, Kings College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 2UB, UK

3 Health Science Building, Foresterhill Campus, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, UK

4 NHS Grampian, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, UK

5 Rowett Institue of Nutrition and Health, Unviersity of Aberdeen, Greenburn Road, Aberdeen, Scotland, AB21 9SB, UK

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BMC Neurology 2012, 12:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-56

Published: 17 July 2012



The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) defines participation as a person’s performance in life situations, including the size of social networks, and satisfaction with social contacts. Stroke survivors are known to experience a reduction in the number of their social networks and contacts, which cannot be explained solely in terms of activity limitations caused by physical impairment. Problems of emotional processing, including impaired mood, emotion regulation and emotion perception, are known to occur following stroke and can detrimentally influence many aspects of social interaction and participation. The aim of this study is to investigate whether emotion processing impairments predict stroke survivors’ restricted social participation, independent of problems with activity limitation.


We aim to recruit 125 patients admitted to NHS Grampian with a confirmed diagnosis of stroke. All participants will be assessed on measures of emotion processing, social participation and activity limitation at approximately one month post stroke and again at approximately one year post stroke in order to assess change over time.


It is important to develop a greater understanding of the emotional factors which may underlie key social deficits in stroke recovery in an ageing population where stroke is one of the leading causes of severe, complex disability. This research may enable us to identify those who are risk of participation restriction and target them in the acute stroke phase of stroke so that adverse outcome is avoided and rehabilitation potential is fulfilled.