Stroke Awareness and Knowledge in an Urban New Zealand Population

      Background

      Stroke is the third most common cause of death and a major cause of chronic disability in New Zealand. Linked to risk factors that develop across the life-course, stroke is considered to be largely preventable. This study assessed the awareness of stroke risk, symptoms, detection, and prevention behaviors in an urban New Zealand population.

      Methods

      Demographics, stroke risk factors awareness, symptoms, responsiveness, and prevention behaviors were evaluated using a structured oral questionnaire. Binomial logistic regression analyses were used to identify predictors of stroke literacy.

      Results

      Although personal experience of stroke increased awareness of symptoms and their likeliness to indicate the need for urgent medical attention, only 42.7% of the respondents (n = 850) identified stroke as involving both blood and the brain. Educational attainment at or above a trade certificate, apprenticeship, or diploma increased the awareness of stroke symptoms compared with those with no formal educational attainment. Pacific Island respondents were less likely than New Zealand Europeans to identify a number of stroke risk factors. Māori, Pacific Island, and Asian respondents were less likely to identify symptoms of stroke and indicate the need for urgent medical attention.

      Conclusions

      The variability in stroke awareness and knowledge may suggest the need to enhance stroke-related health literacy that facilitates understanding of risk and of factors that reduce morbidity and mortality after stroke in people of Māori and Pacific Island descent and in those with lower educational attainment or socioeconomic status. It is therefore important that stroke awareness campaigns include tailored components for target audiences.

      Key Words

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