Background: Good knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors reduces prehospital delay and increases stroke survival. The goal of this study was to identify public stroke knowledge in a rural area in central Pennsylvania.
Materials and Methods: In a cross-sectional study, people attending the 2016 Sullivan County Health Fair in Pennsylvania were interviewed to assess their knowledge of stroke risk factors and warning signs. A structured closed-ended multiple choice questionnaire was administered. Respondents answered questions about stroke warning signs and risk factors. Further questions asked about their reaction to acute stroke and the source of their stroke knowledge.
Results: Out of 163 respondents, 85% of respondents selected ≥3 (out of 4) correct stroke warning signs, and 72% of respondents selected ≥3 (out of 5) correct stroke risk factors. About one-third of respondents selected neck pain or chest pain as a stroke warning sign. Identification of ≥ 1 (out of 3) wrong stroke warning signs were significantly lower among the respondents of post graduate level education in comparison with other literacy groups (23%, P<0.001). 96% of respondents chose “call 911 immediately” when responding to an acute stroke. A relative with a history of stroke was the most cited source of information. Multivariate analysis found that higher level of education increases odds of knowledge of ≥3 correct stroke risk factors. Knowing anyone with stroke was related to familiarity with life-threatening nature of the stroke (r=0.205, P<0.01).
Conclusion: Respondents’ knowledge of warning signs for stroke was favorable. About 85% of respondents recognized at least three stroke warning signs with no significant age and literacy effect. Our results provide some evidence that the subjects most at risk of stroke are the group with the least knowledge of stroke risk factors. Therefore elderly population should be one the main target groups in stroke awareness programs.