Subjective cognitive complaints after stroke: A systematic review

M.W.A. van Rijsbergen, R.E. Mark, P.L. de Kort, M.M. Sitskoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Most studies to date have assessed poststroke cognitive impairment objectively, whereas less attention is paid to subjective cognitive complaints (SCC). We, therefore, systematically searched the literature to summarize and evaluate the current knowledge about poststroke SCC.
Articles were included in this review if the study evaluated SCC in adult stroke survivors, and the publication was an original empirical article from which the full text was available. There were no year or language restrictions.
Twenty-six studies were found on poststroke SCC. There is a huge heterogeneity among these studies with respect to stroke sample, SCC definitions, and instruments used, but they all showed that SCC are very common after stroke. Other main findings are that SCC tend to increase over time and that there is moderate agreement between patients and their proxies on prevalence and severity of patients' SCC. Furthermore, SCC are inconsistently associated with current depressive symptoms and objective cognitive performances, whereas they may predict future emotional and cognitive functioning.
This review highlights that poststroke SCC are highly prevalent and that clinicians should take such complaints seriously. More research is, however, needed to gain further insight into poststroke SCC, to be able to accurately inform patients and relatives, and to develop adequate treatment programs. Based on the limitations of the studies to date, suggestions are made on how both future research and ultimately patient-centered care may be improved in stroke survivors.
Keywords: Cerebrovascular disease, stroke, cognition, subjective cognitive complaints, systematic review
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408–420
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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