Virtual Conference
Neuroscience conference 2022

Tamara Strohm

OSU Wexner Medical Center, USA

Title: Collaborative integration of palliative care in critically ill stroke patients in the neurocritical care unit: A single center pilot study


Introduction: Patients admitted to the Neurocritical Care Unit (NCCU) with moderate-to-severe acute strokes, along with their surrogate decision makers, have the potential for unrecognized or unmet emotional and psychological needs. Our primary objective was to determine if early integration of palliative care consultations within this cohort was feasible and would impact understanding, decision-making and emotional support to patients and their surrogate decision makers. Our secondary objective was to evaluate the long-term impact of early palliative care assessment on the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Methods: This was a single center prospective pilot study. Patients with moderate-to-severe ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes were randomized into two arms. The control arm received standard intensive care and the intervention arm received an additional early palliative care consultation within 72 hours of hospitalization. Study assessments with the participants were obtained on day 1-3, and day 5-7 of care with comparisons of total scores on the Questionnaire on Communication (QOC), Decisional Conflict Scale (DCS), and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Furthermore, comparisons of HADS and PTSD DSM-5 (PCL- 5) scores were completed at 3 months. Linear mixed effects models were conducted to examine the association between intervention and participant's scores.

Results: A total of 22 participants were enrolled between February 2019 and April 2020. Statistically significant improvement in scores was seen in the total HADS score (p=0.043) and PCL5 score (p=0.033) at 3 months following intervention.

Conclusion: Collaboration between the intensive care and palliative care team with early palliative assessment may be beneficial in lowering anxiety, depression and PTSD symptoms in critically ill stroke patients and their caregivers. Further research is needed to validate these findings.


Tamara Strohm is a board-certified neurologist and neurointensivist currently practicing at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  She has multiple presentations and publications on stroke, COVID-related neurological disease, and palliative care as it relates to the neuro patient population.  She has a specific interest in improving patient/family--provider communication.  She also serves as a reviewer for multiple journals.