Social readjustment and ischemic stroke: Lack of an association in a multiethnic population

Gregory A. Abel, Xun Chen, Bernadette Boden-Albala, Ralph L. Sacco, Ralph L. Sacco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinical experience has suggested that stressful life events and ongoing stressful illness, collectively termed 'social readjustment', may precipitate stroke. We investigated the association between a simple in-office evaluation of such stressors and stroke in an urban, multiethnic study population. Cases were patients from the Northern Manhattan Stroke Study with first ischemic stroke; controls were derived through random digit dialing with n:m matching for age, gender, and race-ethnicity. Social readjustment was measured through in-person interview using Amster and Krauss' Geriatric Social Readjustment Rating Scale (GSRRS), a one-time, 35-item, checklist type weighted questionnaire of stressful life events occurring in the previous 6 months. Conditional logistic regression was used to analyze the GSRRS and its quartiles as well as stressful events subgroups, adjusting for education, hypertension, cardiac disease, diabetes, and number of weekly visits as a measure of socialization. Six hundred and fifty-five cases of ischemic stroke and 1,087 controls were utilized. The mean age of the cases was 69.8 years, with 55.4% women, 51.0% Hispanics, 28.4% blacks, and 19.1% whites. GSRRS scores ranged from 0 to 812; the mean score was 205.5 for the cases and 206.2 for the controls. The analysis showed no association between stroke and a 20- point increase on the GSRRS (OR=1.01,95% CI=0.99-1.01). There was also no effect for the second, third or highest versus lowest quartile. No association was found in age, gender or race-ethnic subgroups, or when analyzing negative events, severely threatening events, or ongoing stressful illnesses separately. While this study does not preclude social readjustment as a stroke risk factor, it suggests that the one-time assessment often done in the medical office setting has little relevance for stroke prevention planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Life events
  • Social readjustment
  • Stress
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology


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