Emergency Medical Services-Based Community Stroke Education: Pilot Results From a Novel Approach

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Although previous studies using mass media have demonstrated successful public stroke awareness campaigns, they may have been too costly for smaller communities to implement. The goal of this study was to investigate if a novel emergency medical services (EMS) -sponsored community awareness campaign could increase public stroke awareness.

Methods—

This was a pre- and postintervention study with 2 phases conducted between August 2005 and July 2007. During Phase I, strategic placement of stroke education media by EMS personnel was implemented in one county over a 2-year period. Five random-digit, standardized phone surveys measuring stroke awareness were conducted with county residents to assess the campaign’s impact. In Phase II, EMS interventions and random-digit measurements were conducted in 4 additional counties with 4 counties randomly selected as controls.

Results—

A pattern of increasing stroke knowledge after exposure to the EMS intervention followed by declines in the absence of the intervention was observed during Phase I. EMS interventions also demonstrated a positive effect on the stroke knowledge of residents who lived in counties exposed to the intervention during Phase II with a statistically significant (P<0.05) increase observed in the proportion of respondents that named 2 stroke risk factors and 3 symptoms in comparison to either no changes or declines in the control counties. No evidence of a positive impact on knowledge of calling 911 for stroke was observed.

Conclusion—

Results of this study suggest that the public’s knowledge of stroke signs and symptoms was increased using communitywide EMS-based programs. Additional studies are needed to determine optimal methods for educating the public regarding the need to call 911 for stroke and to confirm these results in other locales.

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