Background: Both apathy and suicide are common in poststroke patients. However, the association between poststroke apathy and suicide-related ideation (SI) in Chinese stroke patients is not clear and poorly understood. The aim of this study was to examine the association between apathy and SI in stroke.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate the association in 518 stroke survivors from Acute Stroke Unit of the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. Geriatric Mental State Examination-Version A (GMS) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory-apathy subscale (NPI-apathy) were employed to assess poststroke SI and apathy, respectively. Patients’ clinical characteristics were obtained with the following scales: the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS).

Results: Thirty-two (6.2%) stroke survivors reported SI. The SI group had a significantly higher frequency of NPI-apathy than the non-SI group (31.2% vs 5.3%, p < 0.001). The SI group also had higher GDS scores (10.47 ± 3.17 vs 4.24 ± 3.71, p < 0.001). Regression analysis revealed that NPI-apathy (OR 2.955, 95% CI 1.142-7.647, p = 0.025) was a significant predictor of SI. The GDS score also predicted SI (OR 1.436, 95% CI 1.284-1.606, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The current findings show that poststroke apathy is an independent predictor of SI 3 months after stroke. Early screening for and intervention targeting apathy through medication and psychological treatments may be necessary to improve stroke patients’ apathy and reduce SI.


apathy, suicide-related ideation, stroke