• Vol. 46 No. 2
  • 15 February 2017

Surveys of Stroke Patients and Their Next of Kin on Their Opinions towards Decision-Making and Consent for Stroke Thrombolysis

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ABSTRACT

Early initiation of stroke thrombolysis is associated with improved outcomes. Procurement of consent is a key factor in prolonging the door-to-needle duration. This study aimed to determine the attitudes and preferences of stroke patients and their next of kin (NOK) towards decision-making for stroke thrombolysis in Singapore. Materials and Methods: We surveyed acute ischaemic stroke patients (n = 171) who presented beyond the 4.5-hour therapeutic window and their NOK (n = 140) using a questionnaire with scenarios on obtaining consent for intravenous thrombolysis. Results: In the patient survey, 83% were agreeable for their NOK to decide on their behalf if mentally incapacitated and 74% were agreeable for the doctor to decide if the NOK was absent. In the NOK survey, the majority (81%) wanted to be consulted before mentally capacitated patients made their decision; 72% and 74%, meanwhile, were willing to decide on behalf of a mentally capacitated and mentally incapacitated patient, respectively. In the scenario where a doctor recommended a mentally incapacitated stroke patient to undergo thrombolysis but the family declined, there was a near equal split in preference to follow the family’s or doctor’s decision in both the patient and NOK surveys. Conclusion: The survey found that in the decision-making process for stroke thrombolysis, there was no clear consensus on the preference for the decision maker of the mentally incapacitated patient. In Singapore, there is a strong influence of the NOK in decision-making for thrombolysis.


Intravenous thrombolysis for acute treatment of ischaemic stroke is proven to reduce disability and increase the likelihood of functional independence. However, it is also associated with increased bleeding risk including devastating symptomatic intracerebral haemorrhage.

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