Knowledge of risk among patients at increased risk for stroke.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Patients who recognize their increased risk for stroke are more likely to engage in (and comply with) stroke prevention practices than those who do not. We describe perceived risk of stroke among a nationally diverse sample of patients at increased risk for stroke and determine whether patients' knowledge of their stroke risk varied according to patients' demographic and clinical characteristics. METHODS: Respondents were recruited from the Academic Medical Center Consortium (n = 621, five academic medical centers, inpatients of varying age); the Cardiovascular Health Study (n = 321, population-based sample of persons aged 65+ years); and United HealthCare (n = 319, five health plans, inpatients and outpatients typically younger than 65 years). The primary outcome was awareness of being at risk for stroke. RESULTS: Only 41% of respondents were aware of their increased risk for stroke (including less than one half of patients with previous minor stroke). Approximately 74% of patients who recalled being told of their increased stroke risk by a physician acknowledged this risk in comparison with 28% of patients who did not recall being informed by a physician. Younger patients, depressed patients, those in poor current health, and those with a history of TIA were most likely to be aware of their stroke risk. CONCLUSIONS: Over one half of patients at increased risk of stroke are unaware of their risk. Healthcare providers play a crucial role in communicating information about risk, and successful communication encourages adoption of stroke prevention practices. Educational messages should be targeted toward patients least likely to be aware of their risk.
Samsa, GP; Cohen, SJ; Goldstein, LB; Bonito, AJ; Duncan, PW; Enarson, C; DeFriese, GH; Horner, RD; Matchar, DB
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