Knowledge of risk factors, and warning signs of stroke: a systematic review from a gender perspective

Int J Stroke. 2011 Feb;6(1):60-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-4949.2010.00540.x.


Stroke is one of the leading causes of death globally. Awareness of stroke risk factors and warning signs are important for stroke prevention and seeking care. The purpose of this systematic review was to review existing literature that assessed the knowledge of stroke risk factors and warning signs and allowed separate gender analysis. We conducted a systematic review of all published studies (to August 2008) examining knowledge of stroke risk factors and warning signs that included women and provided results separated by gender. Two reviewers selected studies for inclusion, assessed quality, and extracted data. The database search identified 2158 references for screening and 158 were selected for possible inclusion. Twenty-two studies were reviewed including 20 cross-sectional and two pretest-posttest design surveys. Overall, better stroke knowledge was observed in women compared with men in the majority of the studies although there is a general lack of knowledge in both genders. Four out of 18 studies reported better risk factor knowledge and eight out of 15 studies reported better knowledge in stroke warning signs in women compared with men. Women tended to know more evidence-based stroke risk factors than men. Stroke knowledge also appeared to be related to country of study origin, age, education, and medical history. Stroke knowledge among different populations and both in men and women is suboptimal. More research is necessary to further investigate gender differences in stroke knowledge with specific focus on how to use these differences to improve public health campaigns.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stroke*