Dr Victoria Haunton is Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Specialist Registrar at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Despite the dramatic revolution in stroke medicine, levels of stroke knowledge amongst the general public remain surprisingly poor, and there are still significant difficulties in getting patients to access stroke services promptly. Stephanie Jones et al sought to try and understand these problems in their important integrative review. Worryingly, they found that people struggle to name even one stroke risk factor or stroke symptom, particularly when open ended questions are used. Knowledge is especially poor in older members of the population, ethnic minority groups and those with a lower socio-economic status, but there is also a surprising lack of knowledge amongst those who have already suffered a stroke. Furthermore, there appears to be a real paradox between what people say they would do and what they would actually do in the event of a stroke; whilst at least 47% said they would contact emergency medical services if they suspected they or a relative were experiencing a stroke, only 18% of stroke patients had actually done this. There is therefore an urgent need for further public education. In light of their findings, Stephanie Jones and colleagues suggest that the ideal campaign should minimise barriers to health services and provide cues to action. Continue reading