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Public Education Strategies to Increase Awareness of Stroke Warning Signs and the Need to Call 911

Fogle, Crystelle C. MBA, MS, RD; Oser, Carrie S. MPH; Troutman, T. Polly RN, BSN; McNamara, Michael MS; Williamson, Anthony P. MD; Keller, Matt EMT-P; McNamara, Steve RN, BSN; Helgerson, Steven D. MD, MPH; Gohdes, Dorothy MD; Harwell, Todd S. MPH

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: May/June 2008 - Volume 14 - Issue 3 - p e17–e22
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000316496.78282.47
Articles Available Online Only for the May-June Issue

Rapid identification and treatment of ischemic stroke can lead to improved patient outcomes. We implemented a 20-week public education campaign to increase community awareness of warning signs for stroke and the need to call 911. Telephone surveys were conducted in adults aged 45 years and older before and after the intervention to evaluate its impact. There was a significant increase in awareness of two or more warning signs for stroke from baseline to follow-up (67% to 83%). Awareness increased significantly among both men and women and younger and older respondents. There was no significant change in the proportion of respondents indicating that they would call 911 if they witnessed someone having a stroke (74% to 76%). However, after the campaign, an increased proportion of respondents indicated that they would call 911 if they experienced sudden speech problems (51% to 58%), numbness or loss of sensation (41% to 51%), or paralysis (46% to 59%) that would not go away. Our findings suggest that a high-intensity public education campaign can increase community awareness of the warning signs for stroke and the need to call 911.

• This article shows how awareness of stroke warning signs and the need to call 911 can be increased using public education strategies.

Crystelle C. Fogle, MBA, MS, RD, is Program Manager, the Cardiovascular Health Program, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana.

Carrie S. Oser, MPH, is Epidemiologist, the Cardiovascular Health and Diabetes Programs, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana.

T. Polly Troutman, RN, BSN, is Stroke Coordinator, the Saint Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center, Missoula, Montana.

Michael McNamara, MS, is Secondary Prevention Coordinator, Cardiovascular Health Program, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services in Helena, Montana.

Anthony P. Williamson, MD, is Neurologist, Montana Neurobehavioral Specialists, Missoula, Montana.

Matt Keller, EMT-P, is Paramedic, the Missoula Emergency Services, Missoula, Montana.

Steve McNamara, RN, BSN, is Flight Nurse, the Saint Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center, Missoula, Montana.

Steven D. Helgerson, MD, MPH, is Chief Medical Officer, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana.

Dorothy Gohdes, MD, is Medical Consultant, the Cardiovascular Health and Diabetes Programs, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana.

Todd S. Harwell, MPH, is Chief, the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Bureau, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services in Helena, Montana.

Corresponding Author: Todd S. Harvell, MPH, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, MT 59620 (tharwell@mt.gov).

The authors thank Linda Priest and staff members from Northwest Resource Consultants for their work and expertise conducting the telephone survey and Banik Communications for media development and placement. This project was supported through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division for Heart and Stroke Prevention (U50/CCU821287-05) in Atlanta, Georgia. The contents of this report are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.