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Background: Timely recognition of stroke symptoms and appropriate emergency response offers those who experience stroke an increased chance of physical and psychosocial recovery. International research suggests there is a lack of knowledge amongst the general population of the signs and symptoms of stroke, this may impact on seeking treatment. Public awareness campaigns are designed to educate the public on how to recognise and respond to symptoms of stroke
Aim: To investigate recognition and response to stroke and associated factors.
Design: A cross-sectional study was designed, a researcher developed questionnaire sought information related to previous experience of stroke, knowledge of risk factors, recognition of stroke symptoms, awareness of treatment available and the ability to identify what the letters of the FAST acronym represent. The Stroke Action Test (STAT)41 was used to investigate how participants would respond to specific symptoms of stroke.
Sample: A convenient sample (n=243) which included older people attending an outpatients’ clinic in a large teaching hospital were included. A mixed method of data collection of online and paper version was used.
Findings: Results identified that 41% of participants recognised all six stroke symptoms as defined by the American Heart and Stroke Association. The symptom most frequently recognised by participants was numbness of the face, arm and leg (97%). The mean STAT score for participants was 9 which indicated that most participants would respond appropriately, by contacting the emerging services, to 9 out of a total of 21 items describing stroke in the STAT. Multivariate analysis identified that having previously had a stroke and knowledge of risk factors for stroke were significantly associated with recognition of stroke symptoms. Participants were most likely to respond to items which described classic stroke symptoms such as limb weakness and difficulty speaking.
Conclusion Awareness of treatment available for stroke is a predictor of appropriate response to stroke. Future stroke awareness campaigns should include information on the availability, benefits and timelines for treatment of stroke to help individuals who experience stroke overcome delays in their response to the recognition of stroke symptoms.
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