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A typology to explain changing social networks post stroke

Northcott, S., Hirani, S. P. & Hilari, K. (2017). A typology to explain changing social networks post stroke. Gerontologist, 58(3), pp. 500-511. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnx011


Purpose of the study

Social network typologies have been used to classify the general population but have not previously been applied to the stroke population. This study investigated whether social network types remain stable following a stroke, and if not, why some people shift network type.

Design and Methods

We used a mixed methods design. Participants were recruited from two acute stroke units. They completed the Stroke Social Network Scale (SSNS) two weeks and six months post strokeand in-depth interviews 8-15 months following the stroke. Qualitative data was analysed using Framework Analysis; k-means cluster analysis was applied to the six month data set.


87 participants were recruited, 71 were followed up at six months, and 29 completed in-depth interviews. It was possible to classify all 29 participants into one of the following network types both pre and post-stroke: diverse; friends-based; family-based; restricted-supported; restricted-unsupported. The main shift that took place post stroke was participants moving out of a diverse network into a family-based one. The friends-based network type was relatively stable. Two network types became more populated post stroke: restricted-unsupported and family-based. Triangulatory evidence was provided by k-means cluster analysis, which produced a cluster solution(for n=71) with comparable characteristics to the network types derived from qualitative analysis.


Following a stroke, a person’s social network is vulnerable to change. Explanatory factors for shifting network type included the physical and also psychological impact of having a stroke, as well as the tendency to lose contact with friends rather than family.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Gerontologist following peer review. The version of record Northcott, S., Hirani, S. P. & Hilari, K. (2017). A typology to explain changing social networks post stroke. Gerontologist, is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: social networks, social isolation, analysis–mixed methods, friendship, chronic illness
Subjects: P Language and Literature
R Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Post%20stroke%20social%20network%20typology%20Northcott%20Hirani%20and%20Hilari%202017.pdf]
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