A meta-analysis of executive functions among survivors of subarachnoid haemorrhage

Mary Kate Burke*, F. Colin Wilson, David B. Curran, Martin Dempster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Subarachnoid Haemorrhage (SAH) is a type of stroke which is suggested to result in Executive Functioning (EF) deficits. Within the SAH research, EF is typically assessed as a unitary cognitive construct. Therefore, the nature and extent to which the different components of EF are impacted post SAH remain unclear. In this meta-analysis, 10 studies met selection criteria including 248 SAH participants, treated by endovascular coiling. Participants were assessed by EF measures and compared with 230 controls. Searches were conducted in November 2018 including Medline, PsychINFO, Web of Science, Scopus and CINAHL databases. EF measures were assigned to categories including Cognitive Flexibility, Working Memory, Inhibitory Control and Planning/Problem Solving [Diamond, 2013. Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64(1), 135–168. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750]. A statistically significant effect was found for overall EF. Cognitive Flexibility (G = −0.76) and Inhibitory Control (G = −0.51) generated moderate effect sizes, while Working Memory and Planning/Problem Solving found a small effect size (G = −0.45 and G = −0.49, respectively). The I 2 statistic suggested small to moderate heterogeneity between studies, hypothesized to relate to different cognitive tools. Underlying components of EF appear to be differentially impacted post SAH, with Cognitive flexibility demonstrating the largest degree of deficit. Recommendations for a standardized and uniform assessment of EF post SAH are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2020


  • endovascular coiling
  • executive functioning
  • neuropsychological
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology


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