Background: Previous research has found an association between post-stroke depressive symptoms and premorbid personality. This study sought to investigate further the relationship between premorbid personality and a number of common post-stroke behavioral and psychological symptoms in a three-month follow-up study.
Methods: This prospective study was conducted between May 2003 and January 2005 in a Perth metropolitan teaching hospital. The pre-stroke personality of stroke survivors was assessed by interviewing a close family member (informant) within four weeks of the index stroke using the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised. Three months after the stroke, patients were followed up and assessed with the Cambridge Cognitive examination and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and their informants completed the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-carer distress version (NPI) and instrumental activities of daily living scale.
Results: Depressive symptoms were the most commonly reported post-stroke symptom (45.1%). Spearman's correlations showed that high neuroticism was positively correlated with NPI total scores (ρ = 0.37, p = 0.007), NPI total distress scores (ρ = 0.47, p = 0.001), and specifically with agitation and irritability NPI composite scores. Agreeableness was inversely correlated with agitation (ρ = −0.40, p = 0.004) and irritability (ρ = −0.37, p = 0.007) composite scores.
Conclusions: Premorbid personality traits of high neuroticism and low agreeableness are associated with the presence of post-stroke agitation, irritability, and carer distress. This knowledge may contribute to the development of strategies designed to identify patients and families who require more intense supervision and support during post-stroke rehabilitation.