Graduate School of Nursing Dissertations

Publication Date


Document Type

Dissertation, Doctoral


Graduate School of Nursing

Dissertation Committee Chair

Carol Bova


Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Health Status, Health Status Indicators, Quality of Life

Subject Categories



Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) causes 5% of all strokes and is responsible for about 18,000 deaths per year in the United States (Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, 2008). The incidence of SAH has been estimated at 6 to 8 per 100,000 persons per year (Linn, Rinkel, Algra, & van Gijn, 1996). In nearly 15% (range 5–34%) of patients with SAH, no source of hemorrhage can be identified via four-vessel cerebral angiography (Alen et al., 2003; Gupta et al., 2009), resulting in two major types of SAH: aneurysmal (ASAH) and nonaneurysmal (NASAH). Anecdotal evidence and contradictory research suggest that patients with NASAH experience some of the same health-related quality of life (HRQOL) issues as patients with ASAH. The purpose of this quantitative survey design study was to compare health-related quality of life (HRQOL) 1 to 3 years post-hemorrhage in patients who have experienced a NASAH to those who have experienced an ASAH. This is the first US study to specifically investigate HRQOL in NASAH and the second study comparing HRQOL outcomes between aneurysmal and nonaneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage patients. Our results are comparable to the first study by Hutter and Gilsbach, (1995), which also found that the two groups are much more similar than different. There were no significant differences between 28 of the 36 demographic and clinical characteristics examined in this study. Our study confirms previous findings that there is a significant impact on employment for both hemorrhage groups and an even greater inability to return to work for the NASAH patients. The nonaneurysmal group had more physical symptom complaints while the aneurysmal group had more emotional symptoms. Lastly, both groups had low levels of PTSD, and these levels did not differ significantly between groups. However, PTSD and social support were shown by regression analysis to impact HRQOL for both groups. We recommend that clinicians assess for PTSD in all subarachnoid hemorrhage patients and institute treatment early, which will decrease the negative effects on HRQOL. This may include offering psychological services or social work early in the hospital course to all SAH patients. Further research and policy changes are needed to assist in interventions that improve vocational reintegration after SAH. NASAH patients should no longer be referred to as having suffered a “benign hemorrhage.” They have had a life changing hemorrhage that may forever change their lives and impact their HRQOL.



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