Social networks and risk of delayed hospital arrival after acute stroke

Nat Commun. 2019 Mar 14;10(1):1206. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09073-5.


Arriving rapidly to the hospital after a heart attack or stroke is critical for patients to be within time windows for treatment. Prior research in heart attacks has suggested a paradoxical role of the social environment: those who arrive early are surrounded by nonrelatives, while those who arrive late are surrounded by spouses or family members. Here, we used network methods to more deeply examine the influence of social context in stroke. We examined the relationship of personal social networks and arrival time in 175 stroke patients. Our results confirmed the paradox by showing that small and close-knit personal networks of highly familiar contacts, independent of demographic, clinical, and socioeconomic factors, were related to delay. The closed network structure led to constricted information flow in which patients and close confidants, absent outside perspectives, elected to watch-and-wait. Targeting patients with small, close-knit networks may be one strategy to improve response times.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Emergencies / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Networking*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Time-to-Treatment / statistics & numerical data*