Women and Stroke Knowledge

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 8:30 AM

Kathleen Ann Ennen, PhD, RN, CNE
School of Nursing, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

Learning Objective 1: Differentiate the knowledge of signs, symptoms, and risk factors for stroke versus myocardial infarction in a community-based sample of women.

Learning Objective 2: Describe the community-based educational efforts needed regarding the public's understanding of signs and symptoms associated with stroke.


Although stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, it is often not recognized by its victims or bystanders. This can result in fatal or disabling delays in receiving effective, time-sensitive treatment. To understand the delay in seeking treatment, this study examined the knowledge of stroke symptoms and risk factors, and the impact of age, residence location, and income on stroke knowledge level.


This descriptive, correlational study used a convenience sample of midlife women living in southeast North Carolina. The participants completed the self-report Stroke Recognition Questionnaire (SRQ) designed to assess stroke knowledge.


A total of 97 community-dwelling women, aged 41-71 years, completed the Stroke Recognition Questionnaire (SRQ). Rural participants had higher stroke risk factor knowledge compared to non-rural participants. Younger (≤ 49 years) participants and those with incomes ≥ $35,601 had higher symptom and risk factor knowledge scores. Confusion (99%) was the most frequently recognized stroke symptom and high blood pressure (96.9%) the most frequently identified risk factor by participants. Chest pain (44.3%) and difficulty breathing (55.7%) were among the most commonly misidentified stroke symptoms. While hypoglycemia (34%) and trouble sleeping (26.8%) were among the most common misidentified stroke risk factors. Less than 80% of the participants identified diabetes mellitus, smoking, and lack of physical exercise as stroke risks. Stroke symptom knowledge level in this group was better than that found in earlier studies. Rural participants’ higher stroke risk factor knowledge level was surprising.


Educational interventions are needed which help the general public differentiate symptoms associated with stoke versus acute myocardial infarction. Results indicate that community-based stroke educational efforts should target those over the age of 50 who have the greatest stroke risk, but appear to be the least informed.