To reduce the risk of a recurring event in patients who have suffered an initial stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), nurses are challenged with implementing and promoting changes in lifestyle and adherence to treatment regimens. Assessing patients' beliefs about the cause of the stroke or TIA is important to understanding their subsequent health behaviors. This study describes the causal attributions and health behavior choices of 9 participants following a stroke or TIA. Attributions were categorized as internal or external and cross-tabulated by controllability. The attributions were compared with health behavior choices. All participants attempted to make causal attributions, both internal (e.g., anxiety, hypertension, lifestyle) and external (e.g., stress, fate). Those making external attributions demonstrated poorer health behavior choices than those making internal attributions; controllability had no influence on behavior. Patients diagnosed more than 6 months before the study tended to make more external attributions. The results can help nurses understand the beliefs that drive the health behavior choices made by stroke and TIA survivors and guide them in tailoring prevention strategies and engaging patients in preventive activities.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Sharron Runions, MSc(A) RN CNN(C), at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a clinical nurse specialist in the Stroke Prevention Clinic and Cere-brovascular Program at McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Antonia Arnaert, PhD MPA RN, is an assistant professor at McGill University School of Nursing, Montreal, QC.
Rosa Sourial, MSc(A) RN CNN(C), is a clinical nurse specialist in the Stroke Program at the Neurosciences Mission, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC.
© 2006 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses