Context: Poor public knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors limits effective stroke intervention and prevention.
Objective: To examine temporal trends in public knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors.
Design and setting: Population-based random-digit telephone survey conducted in July-November 2000 among individuals in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio, region.
Participants: A total of 2173 survey respondents (69% response rate) were randomly identified based on their demographic similarities to the ischemic stroke population with regard to age, race, and sex.
Main outcome measures: Spontaneous recall of at least 1 important stroke warning sign and 1 established stroke risk factor in comparison with findings from the same survey in 1995.
Results: In 2000, 70% of respondents correctly named at least 1 established stroke warning sign vs 57% in 1995 (P<.001), and 72% correctly named at least 1 established stroke risk factor vs 68% in 1995. Groups of individuals with the highest risk and incidence of stroke, such as persons at least 75 years old, blacks, and men, were the least knowledgeable about warning signs and risk factors. Television was the most frequently cited source of knowledge, 32% in 2000 vs 24% in 1995 (P<.001).
Conclusions: Public knowledge of stroke warning signs within the greater Cincinnati region has significantly improved from 1995 to 2000, although knowledge of stroke risk factors did not improve significantly during the same time period. Public education efforts must continue and should focus on groups at the highest risk of stroke.