Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

Title: Illness perceptions and fatigue after stroke


Type of assignment:                    MA thesis HPT, 25 or 35 EC

Internal or external?:                    external: Medisch Spectrum Twente

Maximum number of students      Yes; 1 student

Individual collecting of data?        Participation in ongoing study

Type of research:                         quantitative

Description of the assignment:

Ischemic stroke is one of the most common causes of morbidity and case fatality in developing countries. Favourable functional outcome is influenced not only by factors related to acute stages of stroke, but also by factors emerging during recovery, including fatigue, which could be a constraint for rehabilitation. Fatigue affects between 36-77% of stroke survivors at different time intervals, from admission to 3 years follow-up. It is still a relatively unexplored condition and often neglected.

The causes of fatigue after stroke is multifactorial involving biological as well as psychosocial factors. Fatigue is also a prevalent symptom in other chronic diseases. Illness perceptions have been found to be related to the experiences of symptoms and outcomes in other chronic diseases. Illness perceptions have been found to be related to fatigue interference for example in leukaemia (Westbrook et al, 2016). Illness perceptions are the common sense beliefs people have about their illness such as perceptions of the identity, cause, time line, consequences and controllability of their disease. The role of illness perceptions and the experience of fatigue have not been studies in patients with stroke.

In an ongoing study about fatigue after stroke at the department of neurology of the Medisch Spectrum Twente patients are followed during one year with assessments in the first week after stroke, and after 3, 6, and 12 months. At these time points clinical and radiological data are collected and patients complete questionnaires about fatigue, illness perceptions and other variables.

The aim of this study is to explore the course of fatigue during the first year after stroke, to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between illness perceptions and the severity and impact of fatigue and potential other variables.


Lerdal A, Bakken LN, Kouwenhoven SE, et al. Poststroke fatigue--a review. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009;38(6):928-949. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2009.04.028 [doi].

Schepers VP, Visser-Meily AM, Ketelaar M, Lindeman E. Poststroke fatigue: course and its relation to personal and stroke-related factors. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006;87(2):184-188. doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2005.10.005.

Van de Port IGL, Kwakkel G, Schepers VPM, Heinemans CTI, Lindeman E. Is fatigue an independent factor associated with activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living and health-related quality of life in chronic stroke? Cerebrovasc Dis. 2007;23(1):40-45. doi:10.1159/000095757.

Westbroook, T.D., Maddocks, K., Andersen, B.L. (2016). The relation of illness perceptions to stress, depression, and fatigue in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Psychology & Health, 31(7), 891-902. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2016.1158259.


Who are we looking for? A student with an interest in the psychosocial aspects of chronic somatic diseases, in network building in hospitals, collaboration with medical doctors/neurologists.

More information?: Erik Taal or Christina Bode

Supervisors: Dr. Erik Taal & Dr. Christina Bode