Perceptions of Stroke and Associated Health-Care-Seeking Behavior in Northern Tanzania: A Community-Based Study

Neuroepidemiology. 2019;53(1-2):41-47. doi: 10.1159/000499069. Epub 2019 Apr 15.


Background: Little is known about knowledge of stroke symptoms, perceptions of self-risk, and health-care-seeking behavior for stroke in East Africa.

Methods: A 2-stage randomized population-based cluster survey with selection proportional to population size was performed in northern Tanzania. Self-identified household health-care decision makers were asked to list all symptoms of a stroke. They were further asked if they thought they had a chance of having a stroke and where they would present for care for stroke-like symptoms. A socioeconomic status score was derived via principal component analysis from 9 variables related to wealth.

Results: Of 670 respondents, 184 (27.4%) knew a conventional stroke symptom and 51 (7.6%) thought they had a chance of having a stroke. Females were less likely to perceive themselves to be at risk than males (OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.28-0.89, p = 0.014). Of respondents, 558 (88.3%) stated they would present to a hospital for stroke-like symptoms. Preference for a hospital was not associated with knowledge of stroke symptoms or perception of self-risk but was associated with a higher socioeconomic status score (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Knowledge of stroke symptoms and perception of self-risk are low in northern Tanzania, but most residents would present to a hospital for stroke-like symptoms.

Keywords: Health-care-seeking behavior; Knowledge; Stroke; Sub-Saharan Africa; Tanzania.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Independent Living / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Young Adult