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1.  Rural Community Knowledge of Stroke Warning Signs and Risk Factors 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2005;2(2):A14.
Introduction
Rapid identification and treatment of ischemic stroke can lead to improved patient outcomes. Public education campaigns in selected communities have helped to increase knowledge about stroke, but most data represent large metropolitan centers working with academic institutions. Much less is known about knowledge of stroke among residents in rural communities.
Methods
In 2004, 800 adults aged 45 years and older from two Montana counties participated in a telephone survey using unaided questions to assess awareness of stroke warning signs and risk factors. The survey also asked respondents if they had a history of atrial fibrillation, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, heart disease, or stroke.
Results
More than 70% of survey participants were able to correctly report two or more warning signs for stroke: numbness on any side of the face/body (45%) and speech difficulties (38%) were reported most frequently. More than 45% were able to correctly report two or more stroke risk factors: smoking (50%) and high blood pressure (44%) were reported most frequently. Respondents aged 45 to 64 years (odds ratio [OR] 2.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.78–3.46), women (OR 2.02; 95% CI, 1.46–2.80), those with 12 or more years of education (OR 1.96; 95% CI, 1.08–3.56), and those with high cholesterol (OR 1.68; 95% CI, 1.17–2.42) were more likely to correctly identify two or more warning signs compared with respondents without these characteristics. Women (OR 1.48; 95% CI, 1.07–2.05) and respondents aged 45 to 64 years (OR 1.35; 95% CI, 1.01–1.81) were also more likely to correctly identify two or more stroke risk factors compared with men and older respondents.
Conclusion
Residents of two rural counties were generally aware of stroke warning signs, but their knowledge of stroke risk factors was limited.
PMCID: PMC1327708  PMID: 15888225
2.  Stroke awareness in the general population: knowledge of stroke risk factors and warning signs in older adults 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:35.
Background
Stroke is a leading cause of death and functional impairment. While older people are particularly vulnerable to stroke, research suggests that they have the poorest awareness of stroke warning signs and risk factors. This study examined knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors among community-dwelling older adults.
Methods
Randomly selected community-dwelling older people (aged 65+) in Ireland (n = 2,033; 68% response rate). Participants completed home interviews. Questions assessed knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors, and personal risk factors for stroke.
Results
Of the overall sample, 6% had previously experienced a stroke or transient ischaemic attack. When asked to identify stroke risk factors from a provided list, less than half of the overall sample identified established risk factors (e.g., smoking, hypercholesterolaemia), hypertension being the only exception (identified by 74%). Similarly, less than half identified established warning signs (e.g., weakness, headache), with slurred speech (54%) as the exception. Overall, there were considerable gaps in awareness with poorest levels evident in those with primary level education only and in those living in Northern Ireland (compared with Republic of Ireland).
Conclusion
Knowledge deficits in this study suggest that most of the common early symptoms or signs of stroke were recognized as such by less than half of the older adults surveyed. As such, many older adults may not recognise early symptoms of stroke in themselves or others. Thus, they may lose vital time in presenting for medical attention. Lack of public awareness about stroke warning signs and risk factors must be addressed as one important contribution to reducing mortality and morbidity from stroke.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-9-35
PMCID: PMC2734750  PMID: 19656359
3.  Stroke Statistics in Korea: Part II Stroke Awareness and Acute Stroke Care, A Report from the Korean Stroke Society and Clinical Research Center For Stroke 
Journal of Stroke  2013;15(2):67-77.
The aim of the current Part II of Stroke Statistics in Korea is to summarize nationally representative data on public awareness, pre-hospital delay, thrombolysis, and quality of acute stroke care in a single document. The public's knowledge of stroke definition, risk factors, warning signs, and act on stroke generally remains low. According to studies using open-ended questions, the correct definition of stroke was recognized in less than 50%, hypertension as a stroke risk factor in less than 50%, and other well-defined risk factors in less than 20%. Among stroke warning signs, sudden paresis or numbness was best appreciated, with recognition rates ranging in 36.9-73.7%, but other warning signs including speech disturbance were underappreciated. In addition, less than one third of subjects in a representative population survey were aware of thrombolysis and had knowledge of the appropriate act on stroke, calling emergency medical services (EMS). Despite EMS being an essential element in the stroke chain of survival and outcome improvement, EMS protocols for field stroke diagnosis and prehospital notification for potential stroke patients are not well established. According to the Assessment for Quality of Acute Stroke Care, the median onset-to-door time for patients arriving at the emergency room was 4 hours (mean, 17.3 hours) in 2010, which was not reduced compared to 2005. In contrast, the median door-to-needle time for intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV-TPA) treatment was 55.5 minutes (mean, 79.5 minutes) in 2010, shorter than the median time of 60.0 minutes (mean, 102.8 minutes) in 2008. Of patients with acute ischemic stroke, 7.9% were treated with IV-TPA in 2010, an increase from the 4.6% in 2005. Particularly, IV-TPA use for eligible patients substantially increased, from 21.7% in 2005 to 74.0% in 2010. The proportion of hospitals equipped with a stroke unit has increased from 1.1% in 2005 to 19.4% in 2010. Performance, as measured by quality indicators, has steadily improved since 2005, and the performance rates for most indicators were greater than 90% in 2010 except for early rehabilitation consideration (89.4%) and IV-TPA use for eligible patients (74.0%). In summary, the current report indicates a substantial improvement in in-hospital acute stroke care, but also emphasizes the need for enhancing public awareness and integrating the prehospital EMS system into acute stroke management. This report would be a valuable resource for understanding the current status and implementing initiatives to further improve public awareness of stroke and acute stroke care in Korea.
doi:10.5853/jos.2013.15.2.67
PMCID: PMC3779666  PMID: 24324942
Stroke; Statistics; Public awareness; Acute stroke; Care
4.  Community awareness of stroke in Accra, Ghana 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:196.
Background
Community awareness of stroke, especially the risk factors and warning signs is important in the control of the disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, little is known about community awareness of stroke though the brunt of stroke is currently borne in this region. The aim of the study was to evaluate stroke awareness in Accra (capital city of Ghana) particularly, the risk factors and warning signs.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study involving systematic sampling of 63 households in each of the 11 sub metropolitan areas of Accra. A structured questionnaire was used to collect stroke awareness data from respondents randomly sampled in the selected households. Logistic regression analyses were done to identify predictors of the main outcome variables including recognition of stroke risk factors, stroke warning signs and the organ affected by stroke.
Results
Only 40% (n = 277) of the 693 respondents correctly identified the brain as the organ affected in stroke. Similarly, less than half of the respondents could recognize any of the established stroke risk factors as well as any of the established stroke warning signs. Over 70% (n > 485) of the respondents either believed that stroke is a preventable disease, or lifestyle alterations can be made to reduce the risk of stroke, or stroke requires emergency treatment. In multivariate analysis, predictors of stroke awareness were: age <50 years (OR = 0.56, CI = 0.35-0.92, p = 0.021), presence of a stroke risk factor (OR = 2.37, CI = 1.52-3.71, p < 0.001) and Christian Religion (OR = 14.86, CI = 1.37-161.01, p = 0.03).
Conclusion
Though stroke is perceived as a serious and preventable disease in Accra, community awareness of the risk factors and warning signs is sub-optimal. This indicates that community-based education programs to increase public awareness of stroke could contribute to decreasing the risk of stroke and to increasing the speed of hospital presentation after stroke onset.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-196
PMCID: PMC3943505  PMID: 24559414
Stroke; Risk factors; Warning signs; Brain; Accra
5.  Level of colorectal cancer awareness: a cross sectional exploratory study among multi-ethnic rural population in Malaysia 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:376.
Background
This paper presents the level of colorectal cancer awareness among multi-ethnic rural population in Malaysia.
Methods
A rural-based cross sectional survey was carried out in Perak state in Peninsular Malaysia in March 2011. The survey recruited a population-representative sample using multistage sampling. Altogether 2379 participants were included in this study. Validated bowel/colorectal cancer awareness measure questionnaire was used to assess the level of colorectal cancer awareness among study population. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was done to identify socio-demographic variance of knowledge score on warning signs and risk factors of colorectal cancer.
Results
Among respondents, 38% and 32% had zero knowledge score for warning signs and risk factors respectively. Mean knowledge score for warning signs and risk factors were 2.89 (SD 2.96) and 3.49 (SD 3.17) respectively. There was a significant positive correlation between the knowledge score of warning signs and level of confidence in detecting a warning sign. Socio-demographic characteristics and having cancer in family and friends play important role in level of awareness.
Conclusions
Level of awareness on colorectal cancer warning signs and risk factors in the rural population of Malaysia is very low. Therefore, it warrants an extensive health education campaign on colorectal cancer awareness as it is one of the commonest cancer in Malaysia. Health education campaign is urgently needed because respondents would seek medical attention sooner if they are aware of this problem.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-376
PMCID: PMC3750380  PMID: 23924238
Colorectal cancer; Rural population; Cancer awareness; Bowel/colorectal CAM
6.  Ethnic Disparities in Stroke Recognition in Individuals with Prior Stroke 
Public Health Reports  2008;123(4):514-522.
SYNOPSIS
Objective.
Studies of stroke awareness suggest that knowledge of early warning signs of stroke is low in high-risk groups. However, little is known about stroke knowledge among individuals with a history of prior stroke who are at significant risk for recurrent stroke.
Methods.
Data from 2,970 adults with a history of prior stroke from the 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were examined. Recognition of the five warning signs of stroke and appropriate action to call 911 was compared across three racial/ethnic groups: non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic/other. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to: (1) determine the association between race/ethnicity and recognition of multiple stroke signs and appropriate first action and (2) identify independent correlates of recognition of multiple stroke signs and taking appropriate action to seek treatment among individuals with prior stroke.
Results.
Recognition of all five signs of stroke and taking appropriate action to call 911 was lowest among the non-Hispanic black group (22.3%) and Hispanic/other group (16.7%). In multivariate models, Hispanic/other (odds ratio [OR] 0.42 [0.25, 0.71]), age 50–64 (OR 0.64 [0.43, 0.97]), age ≥65 (OR 0.36 [0.23, 0.55]), and >high school education (OR 1.79 [1.22, 2.63]) emerged as independent correlates of recognition of all five signs of stroke and first action to call 911.
Conclusions.
Less than 35% of people with prior stroke can distinguish the complex symptom profile of a stroke and take appropriate action to call 911. Targeted educational activities that are sensitive to differences in race/ethnicity, age, and education levels are needed for individuals with prior stroke.
PMCID: PMC2430648  PMID: 18763414
7.  No difference in stroke knowledge between Korean adherents to traditional and western medicine – the AGE study: an epidemiological study 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:153.
Background
Effective stroke intervention and risk reduction depend on the general public's awareness and knowledge of stroke. In Korea, where both traditional Oriental medicine and Western medicine are practiced, estimates of the general public's awareness and knowledge of stroke are poor. The present study sought to describe the inception cohort of the Ansan Geriatric Study (AGE study) and to determine baseline stroke awareness and preferred medical treatment for stroke in this Korean sample.
Methods
A total of 2,767 subjects selected randomly from the Ansan Geriatric Study in South Korea were questioned about stroke. Their answers were compared with their sociodemographic data and other variables.
Results
Only 44.8% of participants correctly identified stroke as a vascular disease in the human brain. Sudden numbness or weakness was the most frequently identified stroke warning sign (60.2%). Hypertension (66.7%) and mental stress (62.2%) were most frequently identified as stroke risk factors. The contributions of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease to stroke were underestimated; they were identified as risk factors by 28.3% and 18.6% of participants, respectively. The predictors for poor knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors were similar irrespective of preference for Western or Oriental medical treatment, and included those with lower levels of education and inaccurate definition of stroke. Television and radio (40.3%) were the most frequent sources of stroke information for both groups.
Conclusion
This study shows that knowledge of stroke is similar among Koreans with preferences for either Western or Oriental medical treatment and that misunderstandings about stroke are common among the Korean elderly. In order to prevent and manage stroke effectively, public health education regarding basic concepts of stroke is necessary. This should target those with a lower level of education and a misunderstanding of the definition of stroke.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-153
PMCID: PMC1550724  PMID: 16772038
8.  Awareness of warning signs among suburban Nigerians at high risk for stroke is poor: A cross-sectional study 
BMC Neurology  2008;8:18.
Background
Although stroke is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria, there is no information on awareness of its warning signs. This study was designed to assess awareness of stroke warning signs in Nigerians at increased risk.
Methods
A hospital-based cross-sectional study conducted at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, in southern Nigeria. Patients with a diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes or both were interviewed for the warning signs of stroke in the outpatient clinic by trained interviewers. The main outcome measure was ability to identify at least one stroke warning sign.
Results
There were 225 respondents with a mean age of 58.0 ± 11.7 years. Only 39.6% could identify at least one stroke warning sign while the commonest sign identified was sudden unilateral limb weakness (24.4%). On multivariate logistic regression analysis, male sex (β = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.14–0.39, p < 0.001) and 11 or more years of education (β = 0.16, 95% CI = 0.03–0.29, p = 0.02) emerged the independent predictors of ability to identify at least one warning sign.
Conclusion
Awareness of stroke warning signs is poor among Nigerians at increased risk for the disease. Efforts should be made to improve on the level of awareness through aggressive health education.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-8-18
PMCID: PMC2423187  PMID: 18513399
9.  Perception of stroke and knowledge of potential risk factors among Omani patients at increased risk for stroke 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:38.
Background
Previous studies have demonstrated poor knowledge of stroke among patients with established risk factors. This study aims to assess the baseline knowledge, among patients with increased risk for stroke in Oman, of warning symptoms of stroke, impending risk factors, treatment, and sources of information.
Methods
In April 2005, trained family practice residents at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital Clinics (cardiology, neurology, diabetic, and lipid clinics), using a standardised, structured, pre-tested questionnaire, conducted a survey of 400 Omani patients. These patients all demonstrated potential risk factors for stroke.
Results
Only 35% of the subjects stated that the brain is the organ affected by a stroke, 68% correctly identified at least one symptom/sign of a stroke, and 43% correctly identified at least one stroke risk factor. The majority (62%) did not believe they were at increased risk for stroke, and 98% had not been advised by their attending physician that their clinical conditions were risk factors for stroke. In the multivariable logistic regression analysis, lower age and higher levels of education were associated with better knowledge regarding the organ involved in stroke, stroke symptoms, and risk factors.
Conclusion
Because their knowledge about stroke risk factors was poor, the subjects in this study were largely unaware of their increased risk for stroke. Intensive health education is needed to improve awareness of stroke, especially among the most vulnerable groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-38
PMCID: PMC1637114  PMID: 17054787
10.  Perceptions of stroke in the general public and patients with stroke: a qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7345):1065.
Objectives
To gain insight into people's thoughts on stroke and to inform the development of educational strategies in the community.
Design
Focus group discussions: two groups of people who had a stroke and their carers, and two groups of members of the general public.
Setting
New South Wales, Australia.
Participants
35 people participated: 11 from the general public, 14 people who had had a stroke, and 10 carers or partners.
Main outcome measures
Views on risk factors, symptoms, treatment, information resources, and prevention.
Results
All groups reported similar knowledge of risk factors. People generally mentioned stress, diet, high blood pressure, age, and smoking as causes of stroke. Participants in the community group gave little attention to symptoms. Some participants who had had a stroke did not initially identify their experience as stroke because the symptoms were not the same as those they had read about. There were mixed feelings about the extent of involvement in management decisions during hospital admission. Some felt sufficiently involved, some wanted to be more involved, and others felt incapable of being actively involved.
Conclusions
Symptoms of stroke are not easy to recognise because they vary so much. Presentation of information about stroke by hospital and community health services should be improved. Simple and understandable educational materials should be developed and their effectiveness monitored.
What is already known on this topicIncreasing the speed of presentation to hospital after the onset of stroke depends on the level of knowledge of stroke in the general populationAmong stroke patients and the general public the knowledge of stroke is poorWhat this study addsFocus group discussion showed that recognition of stroke was not easy for the general public because symptoms present in various waysNone of the available written information about stroke successfully conveyed the importance of early presentation to hospital for anyone experiencing warning signs or symptoms
PMCID: PMC104333  PMID: 11991910
11.  Awareness Levels about Breast Cancer Risk Factors, Early Warning Signs, and Screening and Therapeutic Approaches among Iranian Adult Women: A large Population Based Study Using Latent Class Analysis 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:306352.
Background and Objective. Breast cancer (BC) continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality among women throughout the world and in Iran. Lack of awareness and early detection program in developing country is a main reason for escalating the mortality. The present research was conducted to assess the Iranian women's level of knowledge about breast cancer risk factors, early warning signs, and therapeutic and screening approaches, and their correlated determinants. Methods. In a cross-sectional study, 2250 women before participating at a community based screening and public educational program in an institute of cancer research in Isfahan, Iran, in 2012 were investigated using a self-administered questionnaire about risk factors, early warning signs, and therapeutic and screening approaches of BC. Latent class regression as a comprehensive statistical method was used for evaluating the level of knowledge and its correlated determinants. Results. Only 33.2%, 31.9%, 26.7%, and 35.8% of study participants had high awareness levels about screening approaches, risk factors, early warning signs and therapeutic modalities of breast cancer, respectively, and majority had poor to moderate knowledge levels. Most effective predictors of high level of awareness were higher educational qualifications, attending in screening and public educational programs, personal problem, and family history of BC, respectively. Conclusion. Results of current study indicated that the levels of awareness among study population about key elements of BC are low. These findings reenforce the continuing need for more BC education through conducting public and professional programs that are intended to raise awareness among younger, single women and those with low educational attainments and without family history.
doi:10.1155/2014/306352
PMCID: PMC4180890  PMID: 25295257
12.  Modifiable Etiological Factors and the Burden of Stroke from the Rotterdam Study: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001634.
Using data from the Rotterdam study, Michiel Bos and colleagues estimate the proportion of strokes that are attributable to established modifiable etiological factors for stroke.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Stroke prevention requires effective treatment of its causes. Many etiological factors for stroke have been identified, but the potential gain of effective intervention on these factors in terms of numbers of actually prevented strokes remains unclear because of the lack of data from cohort studies. We assessed the impact of currently known potentially modifiable etiological factors on the occurrence of stroke.
Methods and Findings
This population-based cohort study was based on 6,844 participants of the Rotterdam Study who were aged ≥55 y and free from stroke at baseline (1990–1993). We computed population attributable risks (PARs) for individual risk factors and for risk factors in combination to estimate the proportion of strokes that could theoretically be prevented by the elimination of etiological factors from the population.
The mean age at baseline was 69.4 y (standard deviation 6.3 y). During follow-up (mean follow-up 12.9 y, standard deviation 6.3 y), 1,020 strokes occurred. The age- and sex-adjusted combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes mellitus, atrial fibrillation, coronary disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 (95% CI 0.41–0.62) for any stroke; hypertension and smoking were the most important etiological factors. C-reactive protein, fruit and vegetable consumption, and carotid intima-media thickness in combination raised the total PAR by 0.06. The PAR was 0.55 (95% CI 0.41–0.68) for ischemic stroke and 0.70 (95% CI 0.45–0.87) for hemorrhagic stroke.
The main limitations of our study are that our study population comprises almost exclusively Caucasians who live in a middle and high income area, and that risk factor awareness is higher in a study cohort than in the general population.
Conclusions
About half of all strokes are attributable to established causal and modifiable factors. This finding encourages not only intervention on established etiological factors, but also further study of less well established factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people worldwide have a stroke. About 6 million of these people die within hours, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is suddenly interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. In the longer term, post-stroke rehabilitation can help overcome the disabilities caused by stroke, and various drugs alongside behavioral counselling can reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
Fifty years ago, it was discovered that treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension) reduces the risk of stroke among people with severe hypertension. This discovery led researchers to search for other potentially modifiable etiological factors for stroke (risk factors that cause stroke). The list of established etiological factors now includes smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat), heart disease, and overweight/obesity, in addition to hypertension. But how many strokes would modification of these causal risk factors prevent? In this population-based cohort study, the researchers calculate the individual and combined population attributable risks (PARs) for these established etiological factors to provide an estimate of what proportion of strokes could theoretically be prevented by optimal treatment of known etiological factors. A population-based cohort study enrolls a group of people, determines their characteristics at baseline, and follows them to see whether specific characteristics are associated with specific outcomes. A PAR of an etiological factor for a disease indicates the proportion of that disease in the population that would not occur in the absence of the risk factor.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from 6,844 participants in the Rotterdam Study, which was designed to investigate the causes and consequences of long-term and disabling diseases in the elderly. At baseline, all of the participants were over 55 years old and free from stroke. During follow-up, 1,020 strokes occurred among the participants. Using data on exposure at baseline to various etiological factors for stroke, the researchers calculated PARs for individual factors and used a special statistical technique to calculate PARs for the factors in combination. The combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, heart disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 for any stroke. That is, about half of the strokes in the study population were attributable to this combination of etiological factors. Hypertension and smoking were the most important individual factors (PARs of 0.36 and 0.16, respectively). Notably, the inclusion of several less well established etiological factors (increased blood levels of C-reactive protein, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and thickening of the lining of arteries) only raised the total PAR for any stroke by 0.06.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that about half of the strokes in the study cohort were attributable to established modifiable etiological factors and could theoretically be prevented by eliminating these risk factors from the population. Previous studies have estimated that a larger proportion of strokes could be prevented by eliminating known etiological factors. The researchers acknowledge that some aspects of their study may have led to an underestimation of the proportion of stroke attributable to established etiological factors and note that their findings may not be generalizable to underprivileged or racially diverse populations. Nevertheless, they argue that previous studies are likely to have overestimated the PARs for stroke because they were based on case–control studies (in which exposure to etiological factors was assessed after a stroke had occurred in cases and control individuals, rather than before a stroke as in a population-based cohort study) and often did not use optimal statistical techniques to calculate the total PAR. Importantly, these new findings underscore the importance of interventions targeted at reducing smoking and hypertension and support the search for additional etiological factors for stroke.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Rotterdam Study is available
The UK not-for-profit website Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about stroke
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634
PMCID: PMC4004543  PMID: 24781247
13.  Knowledge of Thrombolytic Therapy for Acute Ischemic Stroke among Community Residents in Western Urban China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107892.
Background and Purpose
Thrombolytic therapy rate for acute ischemic stroke remains low, and improving public awareness of thrombolytic therapy may be helpful to reduce delay and increase chances of thrombolytic therapy. Our purpose was to survey the level of knowledge about thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke among community residents in Yuzhong district, Chongqing, China.
Methods
In 2011, a population-based face-to-face interview survey was conducted in Yuzhong district, Chongqing. A total of 1500 potential participants aged ≥18 years old were selected using a multi-stage sampling method.
Results
A total of 1101 participants completed the survey. Only 23.3% (95% CI = 20.8 to 25.8) were aware of thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke, of whom 59.9% (95% CI = 53.9 to 65.9) knew the time window. Awareness of thrombolytic therapy was higher among young people, those with higher levels of education and household income, those with health insurance, and those who knew all 5 stroke warning signs, while awareness of the time window was higher among those aged 75 years or older. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that awareness of thrombolytic therapy was independently associated with age, education level, health insurance and knowledge of stroke warning signs (P<0.05).
Conclusions
In this population-based survey the community residents have poor awareness of thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107892
PMCID: PMC4164641  PMID: 25222126
14.  Socioeconomic Factors and All Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality among Older People in Latin America, India, and China: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001179.
Cleusa Ferri and colleagues studied mortality rates in over 12,000 people aged 65 years and over in Latin America, India, and China and showed that chronic diseases are the main causes of death and that education has an important effect on mortality.
Background
Even in low and middle income countries most deaths occur in older adults. In Europe, the effects of better education and home ownership upon mortality seem to persist into old age, but these effects may not generalise to LMICs. Reliable data on causes and determinants of mortality are lacking.
Methods and Findings
The vital status of 12,373 people aged 65 y and over was determined 3–5 y after baseline survey in sites in Latin America, India, and China. We report crude and standardised mortality rates, standardized mortality ratios comparing mortality experience with that in the United States, and estimated associations with socioeconomic factors using Cox's proportional hazards regression. Cause-specific mortality fractions were estimated using the InterVA algorithm. Crude mortality rates varied from 27.3 to 70.0 per 1,000 person-years, a 3-fold variation persisting after standardisation for demographic and economic factors. Compared with the US, mortality was much higher in urban India and rural China, much lower in Peru, Venezuela, and urban Mexico, and similar in other sites. Mortality rates were higher among men, and increased with age. Adjusting for these effects, it was found that education, occupational attainment, assets, and pension receipt were all inversely associated with mortality, and food insecurity positively associated. Mutually adjusted, only education remained protective (pooled hazard ratio 0.93, 95% CI 0.89–0.98). Most deaths occurred at home, but, except in India, most individuals received medical attention during their final illness. Chronic diseases were the main causes of death, together with tuberculosis and liver disease, with stroke the leading cause in nearly all sites.
Conclusions
Education seems to have an important latent effect on mortality into late life. However, compositional differences in socioeconomic position do not explain differences in mortality between sites. Social protection for older people, and the effectiveness of health systems in preventing and treating chronic disease, may be as important as economic and human development.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, half of all deaths occur in people aged 60 or older. Yet mortality among older people is a neglected topic in global health. In high income countries, where 84% of people do not die until they are aged 65 years or older, the causes of death among older people and the factors (determinants) that affect their risk of dying are well documented. In Europe, for example, the leading causes of death among older people are heart disease, stroke, and other chronic (long-term) diseases. Moreover, as in younger age groups, having a better education and owning a house reduces the risk of death among older people. By contrast, in low and middle income countries (LMICs), where three-quarters of deaths of older people occur, reliable data on the causes and determinants of death among older people are lacking, in part because many LMICs have inadequate vital registration systems—official records of all births and deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
In many LMICs, chronic diseases are replacing communicable (infectious) diseases as the leading causes of death and disability—health experts call this the epidemiological transition (epidemiology is the study of the distribution and causes of disease in populations)—and the average age of the population is increasing (the demographic transition). Faced with these changes, which occur when countries move from a pre-industrial to an industrial economy, policy makers in LMICs need to introduce measures to improve health and reduce deaths among older people. However, to do this, they need reliable data on the causes and determinants of death in this section of the population. In this longitudinal population-based cohort study (a type of study that follows a group of people from a defined population over time), researchers from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group, which is carrying out population-based research on dementia, aging, and non-communicable diseases in LMICs, investigate the patterns of mortality among older people living in Latin America, India, and China.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2003 and 2005, the researchers completed a baseline survey of people aged 65 years or older living in six Latin American LMICs, China, and India. Three to five years later, they determined the vital status of 12,373 of the study participants (that is, they determined whether the individual was alive or dead) and interviewed a key informant (usually a relative) about each death using a standardized “verbal autopsy” questionnaire that includes questions about date and place of death, and about medical help-seeking and signs and symptoms noted during the final illness. Finally, they used a tool called the InterVA algorithm to calculate the most likely causes of death from the verbal autopsies. Crude mortality rates varied from 27.3 per 1,000 person-years in urban Peru to 70.0 per 1,000 person-years in urban India, a three-fold difference in mortality rates that persisted even after allowing for differences in age, sex, education, occupational attainment, and number of assets among the study sites. Compared to the US, mortality rates were much higher in urban India and rural China; much lower in urban and rural Peru, Venezuela, and urban Mexico; but similar elsewhere. Although several socioeconomic factors were associated with mortality, only a higher education status provided consistent independent protection against death in statistical analyses. Finally, chronic diseases were the main causes of death; stroke was the leading cause of death at all the sites except those in rural Peru and Mexico.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify the main causes of death among older adults in a range of LMICs and suggest that there is an association of education with mortality that extends into later life. However, these findings may not be generalizable to other LMICs or even to other sites in the LMICs studied, and because some of the information provided by key informants may have been affected by recall error, the accuracy of the findings may be limited. Nevertheless, these findings suggest how health and mortality might be improved in elderly people in LMICs. Specifically, they suggest that efforts to ensure universal access to education should confer substantial health benefits and that interventions that target social and economic vulnerability in later life and promote access to effectively organized health care (particularly for stroke) should be considered.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001179.
The World Health Organization provides information on mortality around the world and projections of global mortality up to 2030
The 10/66 Dementia Research Group is building an evidence base to inform the development and implementation of policies for improving the health and social welfare of older people in LMICs, particularly people with dementia; its website includes background information about demographic and epidemiological aging in LMICs
Wikipedia has a page on the demographic transition (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Information about the InterVA tool for interpreting verbal autopsy data is available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about healthy aging
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001179
PMCID: PMC3289608  PMID: 22389633
15.  Cooperative Strategies to Develop Effective Stroke and Heart Attack Awareness Messages in Rural American Indian Communities, 2009–2010 
Introduction
National initiatives to improve the recognition of heart attack and stroke warning signs have encouraged symptomatic people to seek early treatment, but few have shown significant effects in rural American Indian (AI) communities.
Methods
During 2009 and 2010, the Montana Cardiovascular Health Program, in collaboration with 2 tribal health departments, developed and conducted culturally specific public awareness campaigns for signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke via local media. Telephone surveys were conducted before and after each campaign to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaigns.
Results
Knowledge of 3 or more heart attack warning signs and symptoms increased significantly on 1 reservation from 35% at baseline to 47% postcampaign. On the second reservation, recognition of 2 or more stroke signs and symptoms increased from 62% at baseline to 75% postcampaign, and the level of awareness remained at 73% approximately 4 months after the high-intensity campaign advertisements ended. Intent to call 9-1-1 did not increase in the heart attack campaign but did improve in the stroke campaign for specific symptoms. Recall of media campaigns on both reservations increased significantly from baseline to postcampaign for both media outlets (ie, radio and newspaper).
Conclusion
Carefully designed, culturally specific campaigns may help eliminate disparities in the recognition of heart attack and stroke warning signs in AI communities.
doi:10.5888/pcd10.120277
PMCID: PMC3666974  PMID: 23680509
16.  Associations between Stroke Mortality and Weekend Working by Stroke Specialist Physicians and Registered Nurses: Prospective Multicentre Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001705.
In a multicenter observational study, Benjamin Bray and colleagues evaluate whether weekend rounds by stroke specialist physicians, or the ratio of registered nurses to beds on weekends, is associated with patient mortality after stroke.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Observational studies have reported higher mortality for patients admitted on weekends. It is not known whether this “weekend effect” is modified by clinical staffing levels on weekends. We aimed to test the hypotheses that rounds by stroke specialist physicians 7 d per week and the ratio of registered nurses to beds on weekends are associated with mortality after stroke.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a prospective cohort study of 103 stroke units (SUs) in England. Data of 56,666 patients with stroke admitted between 1 June 2011 and 1 December 2012 were extracted from a national register of stroke care in England. SU characteristics and staffing levels were derived from cross-sectional survey. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) of 30-d post-admission mortality, adjusting for case mix, organisational, staffing, and care quality variables. After adjusting for confounders, there was no significant difference in mortality risk for patients admitted to a stroke service with stroke specialist physician rounds fewer than 7 d per week (adjusted HR [aHR] 1.04, 95% CI 0.91–1.18) compared to patients admitted to a service with rounds 7 d per week. There was a dose–response relationship between weekend nurse/bed ratios and mortality risk, with the highest risk of death observed in stroke services with the lowest nurse/bed ratios. In multivariable analysis, patients admitted on a weekend to a SU with 1.5 nurses/ten beds had an estimated adjusted 30-d mortality risk of 15.2% (aHR 1.18, 95% CI 1.07–1.29) compared to 11.2% for patients admitted to a unit with 3.0 nurses/ten beds (aHR 0.85, 95% CI 0.77–0.93), equivalent to one excess death per 25 admissions. The main limitation is the risk of confounding from unmeasured characteristics of stroke services.
Conclusions
Mortality outcomes after stroke are associated with the intensity of weekend staffing by registered nurses but not 7-d/wk ward rounds by stroke specialist physicians. The findings have implications for quality improvement and resource allocation in stroke care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In a perfect world, a patient admitted to hospital on a weekend or during the night should have as good an outcome as a patient admitted during regular working hours. But several observational studies (investigations that record patient outcomes without intervening in any way; clinical trials, by contrast, test potential healthcare interventions by comparing the outcomes of patients who are deliberately given different treatments) have reported that admission on weekends is associated with a higher mortality (death) rate than admission on weekdays. This “weekend effect” has led to calls for increased medical and nursing staff to be available in hospitals during the weekend and overnight to ensure that the healthcare provided at these times is of equal quality to that provided during regular working hours. In the UK, for example, “seven-day working” has been identified as a policy and service improvement priority for the National Health Service.
Why Was This Study Done?
Few studies have actually tested the relationship between patient outcomes and weekend physician or nurse staffing levels. It could be that patients who are admitted to hospital on the weekend have poor outcomes because they are generally more ill than those admitted on weekdays. Before any health system introduces potentially expensive increases in weekend staffing levels, better evidence that this intervention will improve patient outcomes is needed. In this prospective cohort study (a study that compares the outcomes of groups of people with different baseline characteristics), the researchers ask whether mortality after stroke is associated with weekend working by stroke specialist physicians and registered nurses. Stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain bursting (hemorrhagic stroke) or being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke). Swift treatment can limit the damage to the brain caused by stroke, but of the 15 million people who have a stroke every year, about 6 million die within a few hours and another 5 million are left disabled.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted clinical data on 56,666 patients who were admitted to stroke units in England over an 18-month period from a national stroke register. They obtained information on the characteristics and staffing levels of the stroke units from a biennial survey of hospitals admitting patients with stroke, and information on deaths among patients with stroke from the national register of deaths. A quarter of the patients were admitted on a weekend, almost half the stroke units provided stroke specialist physician rounds seven days per week, and the remainder provided rounds five days per week. After adjustment for factors that might have affected outcomes (“confounders”) such as stroke severity and the level of acute stroke care available in each stroke unit, there was no significant difference in mortality risk between patients admitted to a stroke unit with rounds seven days/week and patients admitted to a unit with rounds fewer than seven days/week. However, patients admitted on a weekend to a stroke unit with 1.5 nurses/ten beds had a 30-day mortality risk of 15.2%, whereas patients admitted to a unit with 3.0 nurses/ten beds had a mortality risk of 11.2%, a mortality risk difference equivalent to one excess death per 25 admissions.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the provision of stroke specialist physician rounds seven days/week in stroke units in England did not influence the (weak) association between weekend admission for stroke and death recorded in this study, but mortality outcomes after stroke were associated with the intensity of weekend staffing by registered nurses. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the measure used to judge the level of acute care available in each stroke unit and by residual confounding. For example, patients admitted to units with lower nursing levels may have shared other unknown characteristics that increased their risk of dying after stroke. Moreover, this study considered the impact of staffing levels on mortality only and did not consider other relevant outcomes such as long-term disability. Despite these limitations, these findings support the provision of higher weekend ratios of registered nurses to beds in stroke units, but given the high costs of increasing weekend staffing levels, it is important that controlled trials of different models of physician and nursing staffing are undertaken as soon as possible.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001705.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Meeta Kerlin
Information about plans to introduce seven-day working into the National Health Service in England is available; the 2013 publication “NHS Services—Open Seven Days a Week: Every Day Counts” provides examples of how hospitals across England are working together to provide routine healthcare services seven days a week; a “Behind the Headlines” article on the UK National Health Service Choices website describes a recent observational study that investigated the association between admission to hospital on the weekend and death, and newspaper coverage of the study's results; the Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
A US nurses' site includes information on the association of nurse staffing with patient safety
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institute of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001705
PMCID: PMC4138029  PMID: 25137386
17.  Knowledge of heart disease and stroke among cardiology inpatients and outpatients in a Canadian inner-city urban hospital 
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology  2010;26(10):537-541.
BACKGROUND:
Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death in North America. Nevertheless, in 2003, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada reported that nearly two-thirds of Canadians have misconceptions regarding heart disease and stroke, echoing the results of similar American studies. Good knowledge of these conditions is imperative for cardiac patients who are at greater risk than the general population and should, therefore, be better educated. The present study evaluated the awareness of heart disease and stroke among cardiac patients to assess the efficacy of current education efforts.
METHODS:
Two hundred fifty-one cardiac inpatients and outpatients at St Michael’s Hospital (Toronto, Ontario) were surveyed in July and August 2004. An unaided questionnaire assessed respondents’ knowledge of cardiovascular risk factors, symptoms of heart attack and stroke, and actions in the event of cardiovascular emergency. Demographic data and relevant medical history were also obtained.
RESULTS:
Cardiac patients demonstrated relatively adequate knowledge of heart attack warning symptoms. These patients also demonstrated adequate awareness of proper actions during cardiovascular emergencies. However, respondents were not aware of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Knowledge of stroke symptoms was also extremely poor. Socioeconomic status, and personal history of heart attack and stroke were positively correlated with good knowledge.
CONCLUSIONS:
Future patient education efforts should address the awareness of the important cardiovascular risk factors and knowledge of cardiovascular warning symptoms (especially for stroke), as well as inform patients of appropriate actions during a cardiovascular emergency. Emphasis should be placed on primary and secondary prevention, and interventions should be directed toward low-income cardiac patients.
PMCID: PMC3006102  PMID: 21165363
Heart attack; Myocardial infarction; Prevention; Public health education; Stroke
18.  Knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptomology: a cross-sectional comparison of rural and non-rural US adults 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:283.
Background
Understanding the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes are important not only in saving lives, but also in preserving quality of life. Findings from recent research have yielded that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors are higher in rural populations, suggesting that adults living in rural locales may be at higher risk for heart attack and/or stroke. Knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptomology as well as calling 911 for a suspected heart attack or stroke are essential first steps in seeking care. This study sought to examine the knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptoms among rural adults in comparison to non-rural adults living in the U.S.
Methods
Using multivariate techniques, a cross-sectional analysis of an amalgamated multi-year Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) database was performed. The dependent variable for this analysis was low heart attack and stroke knowledge score. The covariates for the analysis were: age, sex, race/ethnicity, annual household income, attained education, health insurance status, having a health care provider (HCP), timing of last routine medical check-up, medical care deferment because of cost, self-defined health status and geographic locale.
Results
The weighted n for this study overall was 103,262,115 U.S. adults > =18 years of age. Approximately 22.0% of these respondents were U.S. adults living in rural locales. Logistic regression analysis revealed that those U.S. adults who had low composite heart attack and stroke knowledge scores were more likely to be rural (OR = 1.218 95%CI 1.216-1.219) rather than non-rural residents. Furthermore, those with low scores were more likely to be: male (OR = 1.353 95%CI 1.352-1.354), >65 years of age (OR = 1.369 95%CI 1.368-1.371), African American (OR = 1.892 95%CI 1.889-1.894), not educated beyond high school (OR = 1.400 955CI 1.399-1.402), uninsured (OR = 1.308 95%CI 1.3-6-1.310), without a HCP (OR = 1.216 95%CI 1.215-1.218), and living in a household with an annual income of < $50,000 (OR = 1.429 95%CI 1.428-1.431).
Conclusions
Analysis identified clear disparities between the knowledge levels U.S. adults have regarding heart attack and stroke symptoms. These disparities should guide educational endeavors focusing on improving knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptoms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-283
PMCID: PMC3365868  PMID: 22490185
Rural public health; Heart attack symptoms; Stroke symptoms; Knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptomology
19.  Assessing awareness of colorectal cancer symptoms: Measure development and results from a population survey in the UK 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:366.
Background
This paper describes the development of a Cancer Awareness Measure for colorectal (CRC) cancer (Bowel/Colorectal CAMa) (study 1) and presents key results from a population-representative survey using the measure (study 2).
Methods
Study 1
Items were taken from the literature and reviewed by expert groups. A series of three validation studies assessed reliability and validity of the measure. To establish test-retest reliability, 49 people over 50 years of age completed the Bowel/Colorectal CAM on two occasions (range 9-14 days, mean 13.5 days). Construct validity was assessed by comparing responses from bowel cancer experts (n = 16) and the lay public (n = 35). Lastly, a brief intervention study tested sensitivity to change with participants (n = 70) randomly allocated to be given a control leaflet or an intervention leaflet and their responses were compared.
Study 2
1520 respondents completed the Bowel/Colorectal CAM in a population survey carried out by TNS-British Market Research Bureau International (TNS-BMRB) in March 2010.
Results
Study 1
Internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha = 0.84) was high. Test-retest reliability was over r = 0.7 for warning signs, risk factors and age people are first invited for screening, but lower (between 0.6 and 0.7) for other items (lifetime risk, awareness of bowel cancer screening, age at risk). Bowel cancer experts achieved higher scores than equally educated controls (54.7 [4.3] vs. 42.9 [5.7]; P < 0.001) demonstrating the measure has construct validity and intervention participants showed higher knowledge than controls (51.4 [5.9] vs. 42.9 [5.7]; P < 0.001) suggesting the measure is sensitive to change.
Study 2
Respondents recalled on average, one CRC sign and one risk factor. There was particularly low prompted awareness of the signs 'lump in the abdomen' (64%) and 'tiredness' (50%) and several lifestyle risk factors for CRC, e.g. exercise (37%).
Respondents from more affluent groups had consistently higher knowledge of signs and risk factors compared to those from more deprived groups.
Conclusions
The Bowel/Colorectal CAM meets accepted psychometric criteria for reliability and construct validity and should therefore provide a useful tool for assessment of CRC awareness. The population survey revealed low awareness of several CRC signs and risk factors and emphasises the importance of continuing public education, particularly about the link between lifestyle behaviours and CRC.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-366
PMCID: PMC3188511  PMID: 21859500
20.  Improved Recognition of Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms After a Community-Based Intervention for Older Adults, Georgia, 2006-2007 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2009;6(2):A41.
Introduction
In Georgia, mortality from stroke is 16% higher and from cardiovascular disease is 9% higher than it is nationally. Although 75% of Georgia adults have 2 or more modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, less than half recognize all major heart attack and stroke warning symptoms. To reduce disability and prevent death from cardiovascular events, high-risk population groups should be able to recognize symptoms and seek immediate medical attention.
Methods
We evaluated a 4-month education intervention in 40 senior centers in Georgia. The intervention focused on improving knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptoms and on promoting lifestyle behaviors that prevent and manage cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Participants in a convenience sample completed a pretest questionnaire, the intervention, and a posttest questionnaire (N = 693, mean age, 75 years, 84% female, 45% black).
Results
After the intervention, recognition of all 5 symptoms of heart attack increased from 29% at the pretest to 46% at the posttest, and recognition of all 5 symptoms of stroke increased from 42% at the pretest to 65% at the posttest (for both conditions, P < .001). In linear regression analyses, independent positive predictors of change in knowledge were younger age and higher education. Most risk factors for cardiovascular disease were not predictive.
Conclusion
The results of this evaluation provide an evidence base for the effectiveness of this intervention in improving knowledge about heart attack and stroke symptoms, which may translate to greater preparedness in these older adults for response to cardiovascular events.
PMCID: PMC2687847  PMID: 19288984
21.  Barriers and Disparities in Emergency Medical Services 911 Calls for Stroke Symptoms in the United States Adult Population: 2009 BRFSS Survey 
Introduction
This study examines barriers and disparities in the intentions of American citizens, when dealing with stroke symptoms, to call 911. This study hypothesizes that low socioeconomic populations are less likely to call 911 in response to stroke recognition.
Methods
The study is a cross-sectional design analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control’s 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, collected through a telephone-based survey from 18 states and the District of Columbia. The study identified the 5 most evident stroke-warning symptoms based on those given by the American Stroke Association. We conducted appropriate weighting procedures to account for the complex survey design.
Results
A total of 131,988 respondents answered the following question: “If you thought someone was having a heart attack or a stroke, what is the first thing you would do?” A majority of those who said they would call 911 were insured (85.1%), had good health (84.1%), had no stroke history (97.3%), had a primary care physician (PCP) (81.4%), and had no burden of medical costs (84.9%). Those less likely to call 911 were found in the following groups: 65 years or older, men, other race, unmarried, less than or equal to high school degree, less than $25,000 family income, uninsured, no PCP, burden of medical costs, fair/poor health, previous history of strokes, or interaction between burden of medical costs and less than $50,000 family income (p<0.0001 by X2 tests). The only factors significantly associated with “would call 911” were age, sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, and previous history of strokes.
Conclusion
Barriers and disparities exist among subpopulations of different socioeconomic statuses. This study suggests that some potential stroke victims could have limited access to EMS services. Greater effort targeting certain populations is needed to motivate citizens to call 911.
doi:10.5811/westjem.2013.9.18584
PMCID: PMC4043558  PMID: 24926394
22.  Uncovering Treatment Burden as a Key Concept for Stroke Care: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001473.
In a systematic review of qualitative research, Katie Gallacher and colleagues examine the evidence related to treatment burden after stroke from the patient perspective.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Patients with chronic disease may experience complicated management plans requiring significant personal investment. This has been termed ‘treatment burden’ and has been associated with unfavourable outcomes. The aim of this systematic review is to examine the qualitative literature on treatment burden in stroke from the patient perspective.
Methods and Findings
The search strategy centred on: stroke, treatment burden, patient experience, and qualitative methods. We searched: Scopus, CINAHL, Embase, Medline, and PsycINFO. We tracked references, footnotes, and citations. Restrictions included: English language, date of publication January 2000 until February 2013. Two reviewers independently carried out the following: paper screening, data extraction, and data analysis. Data were analysed using framework synthesis, as informed by Normalization Process Theory. Sixty-nine papers were included. Treatment burden includes: (1) making sense of stroke management and planning care, (2) interacting with others, (3) enacting management strategies, and (4) reflecting on management. Health care is fragmented, with poor communication between patient and health care providers. Patients report inadequate information provision. Inpatient care is unsatisfactory, with a perceived lack of empathy from professionals and a shortage of stimulating activities on the ward. Discharge services are poorly coordinated, and accessing health and social care in the community is difficult. The study has potential limitations because it was restricted to studies published in English only and data from low-income countries were scarce.
Conclusions
Stroke management is extremely demanding for patients, and treatment burden is influenced by micro and macro organisation of health services. Knowledge deficits mean patients are ill equipped to organise their care and develop coping strategies, making adherence less likely. There is a need to transform the approach to care provision so that services are configured to prioritise patient needs rather than those of health care systems.
Systematic Review Registration
International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42011001123
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people have a stroke. About 5 million of these people die within a few days, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the blood supply of the brain is suddenly interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. In the longer term, post-stroke rehabilitation can help individuals overcome the physical disabilities caused by stroke, and drugs that thin the blood, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol (major risk factors for stroke) alongside behavioral counseling can reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
Treatment for, and rehabilitation from, stroke is a lengthy process that requires considerable personal investment from the patient. The term “treatment burden” describes the self-care practices that patients with stroke and other chronic diseases must perform to follow the complicated management strategies that have been developed for these conditions. Unfortunately, treatment burden can overwhelm patients. They may be unable to cope with the multiple demands placed on them by health-care providers and systems for their self-care, a situation that leads to poor adherence to therapies and poor outcomes. For example, patients may find it hard to complete all the exercises designed to help them regain full movement of their limbs after a stroke. Treatment burden has been poorly examined in relation to stroke. Here, the researchers identify and describe the treatment burden in stroke by undertaking a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the literature on a given topic) of qualitative studies on the patient experience of stroke management. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data so, for example, a qualitative study on stroke treatment might ask people how the treatment made them feel whereas a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes between those receiving and not receiving the treatment.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 69 qualitative studies dealing with the experiences of stroke management of adult patients and analyzed the data in these papers using framework synthesis—an approach that divides data into thematic categories. Specifically, the researchers used a coding framework informed by normalization process theory, a sociological theory of the implementation, embedding and integration of tasks and practices; embedding is the process of making tasks and practices a routine part of everyday life and integration refers to sustaining these embedded practices. The researchers identified four main areas of treatment burden for stroke: making sense of stroke management and planning care; interacting with others, including health care professionals, family and other patients with stroke; enacting management strategies (including enduring institutional admissions, managing stroke in the community, reintegrating into society and adjusting to life after stroke); and reflecting on management to make decisions about self-care. Moreover, they identified problems in all these areas, including inadequate provision of information, poor communication with health-care providers, and unsatisfactory inpatient care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that stroke management is extremely demanding for patients and is influenced by both the micro and macro organization of health services. At the micro organizational level, fragmented care and poor communication between patients and clinicians and between health-care providers can mean patients are ill equipped to organize their care and develop coping strategies, which makes adherence to management strategies less likely. At the macro organizational level, it can be hard for patients to obtain the practical and financial help they need to manage their stroke in the community. Overall, these findings suggest that care provision for stroke needs to be transformed so that the needs of patients rather than the needs of health-care systems are prioritized. Further work is required, however, to understand how the patient experience of treatment burden is affected by the clinical characteristics of stroke, by disability level, and by other co-existing diseases. By undertaking such work, it should be possible to generate a patient-reported outcome measure of treatment burden that, if used by policy makers and health-care providers, has the potential to improve the quality of stroke care.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001473.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
The UK not-for-profit website Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about stroke
Wikipedia provides information on the burden of treatment and on the normalization process theory (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001473
PMCID: PMC3692487  PMID: 23824703
23.  Program of rehabilitative exercise and education to avert vascular events after non-disabling stroke or transient ischemic attack (PREVENT Trial): a multi-centred, randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:122.
Background
Despite lack of outward signs, most individuals after non-disabling stroke (NDS) and transient ischemic attack (TIA) have significant cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease and are at high risk of a major stroke, hospitalization for other vascular events, or death. Most have multiple modifiable risk factors (e.g., hypertension, physical inactivity, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, tobacco consumption, psychological stress). In addition, accelerated rates of depression, cognitive decline, and poor quality of sleep have been reported following TIA, which correlate with poor functional outcomes and reduced quality of life. Thus, NSD and TIA are important warning signs that should not be overlooked. The challenge is not unlike that facing other 'silent' conditions - to identify a model of care that is effective in changing people's current behaviors in order to avert further morbidity.
Methods/Design
A single blind, randomized controlled trial will be conducted at two sites to compare the effectiveness of a program of rehabilitative exercise and education versus usual care in modifying vascular risk factors in adults after NDS/TIA. 250 adults within 90 days of being diagnosed with NDS/TIA will be randomly allocated to a 12-week program of exercise and education (PREVENT) or to an outpatient clinic assessment and discussion of secondary prevention recommendations with return clinic visits as indicated (USUAL CARE). Primary outcome measures will include blood pressure, waist circumference, 12-hour fasting lipid profile, and 12-hour fasting glucose/hemoglobin A1c. Secondary measures will include exercise capacity, walking endurance, physical activity, cognitive function, depression, goal attainment and health-related quality of life. Outcome assessment will be conducted at baseline, post-intervention, and 6- and 12-month follow-ups. Direct health care costs incurred over one year by PREVENT versus USUAL CARE participants will also be compared. Ethical approval for the trial has been obtained from the relevant Human Research Ethics Boards.
Discussion
Whether timely delivery of an adapted cardiac rehabilitation model is effective in attaining and maintaining vascular risk reduction targets in adults after NDS/TIA is not yet known. We anticipate that the findings of this trial will make a meaningful contribution to the knowledge base regarding secondary stroke prevention.
Trial registration
This trial is registered with the Clinical Trials.gov Registry (NCT00885456).
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-122
PMCID: PMC3004878  PMID: 21143864
24.  Systematic review of mass media interventions designed to improve public recognition of stroke symptoms, emergency response and early treatment 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:784.
Background
Mass media interventions have been implemented to improve emergency response to stroke given the emergence of effective acute treatments, but their impact is unclear.
Methods
Systematic review of mass media interventions aimed at improving emergency response to stroke, with narrative synthesis and review of intervention development.
Results
Ten studies were included (six targeted the public, four both public and professionals) published between 1992 and 2010. Only three were controlled before and after studies, and only one had reported how the intervention was developed. Campaigns aimed only at the public reported significant increase in awareness of symptoms/signs, but little impact on awareness of need for emergency response. Of the two controlled before and after studies, one reported no impact on those over 65 years, the age group at increased risk of stroke and most likely to witness a stroke, and the other found a significant increase in awareness of two or more warning signs of stroke in the same group post-intervention. One campaign targeted at public and professionals did not reduce time to presentation at hospital to within two hours, but increased and sustained thrombolysis rates. This suggests the campaign had a primary impact on professionals and improved the way that services for stroke were organised.
Conclusions
Campaigns aimed at the public may raise awareness of symptoms/signs of stroke, but have limited impact on behaviour. Campaigns aimed at both public and professionals may have more impact on professionals than the public. New campaigns should follow the principles of good design and be robustly evaluated.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-784
PMCID: PMC3022856  PMID: 21182777
25.  Analysis of using the tongue deviation angle as a warning sign of a stroke 
Background
The symptom of tongue deviation is observed in a stroke or transient ischemic attack. Nevertheless, there is much room for the interpretation of the tongue deviation test. The crucial factor is the lack of an effective quantification method of tongue deviation. If we can quantify the features of the tongue deviation and scientifically verify the relationship between the deviation angle and a stroke, the information provided by the tongue will be helpful in recognizing a warning of a stroke.
Methods
In this study, a quantification method of the tongue deviation angle was proposed for the first time to characterize stroke patients. We captured the tongue images of stroke patients (15 males and 10 females, ranging between 55 and 82 years of age); transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients (16 males and 9 females, ranging between 53 and 79 years of age); and normal subjects (14 males and 11 females, ranging between 52 and 80 years of age) to analyze whether the method is effective. In addition, we used the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) for the sensitivity analysis, and determined the threshold value of the tongue deviation angle for the warning sign of a stroke.
Results
The means and standard deviations of the tongue deviation angles of the stroke, TIA, and normal groups were: 6.9 ± 3.1, 4.9 ± 2.1 and 1.4 ± 0.8 degrees, respectively. Analyzed by the unpaired Student’s t-test, the p-value between the stroke group and the TIA group was 0.015 (>0.01), indicating no significant difference in the tongue deviation angle. The p-values between the stroke group and the normal group, as well as between the TIA group and the normal group were both less than 0.01. These results show the significant differences in the tongue deviation angle between the patient groups (stroke and TIA patients) and the normal group. These results also imply that the tongue deviation angle can effectively identify the patient group (stroke and TIA patients) and the normal group. With respect to the visual examination, 40% and 32% of stroke patients, 24% and 16% of TIA patients, and 4% and 0% of normal subjects were found to have tongue deviations when physicians “A” and “B” examined them. The variation showed the essentiality of the quantification method in a clinical setting. In the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC), the Area Under Curve (AUC, = 0.96) indicates good discrimination. The tongue deviation angle more than the optimum threshold value (= 3.2°) predicts a risk of stroke.
Conclusions
In summary, we developed an effective quantification method to characterize the tongue deviation angle, and we confirmed the feasibility of recognizing the tongue deviation angle as an early warning sign of an impending stroke.
doi:10.1186/1475-925X-11-53
PMCID: PMC3507660  PMID: 22908956
Tongue; Deviation angle; Stroke; Transient ischemic attack; Quantification

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