Public Release: 

Study finds knowledge poor about stroke in Uganda

Survey done by Makerere University in Uganda, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Case Medical Center

University Hospitals Case Medical Center

CLEVELAND -- A study published in the journal International Scholarly Research Notices (ISRN) Stroke found that overall knowledge about stroke in Uganda was poor, although knowing what to do for a stroke - go to the hospital - was good.

Researchers from higher education institutions in Uganda collaborated with those from Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center to assess residents' knowledge of stroke symptoms and treatment options. To date, public perception and level of knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors in Uganda have not been well studied, and researchers believe this is the first study to do so. The researchers surveyed 1,600 residents, and found that three-quarters did not know any stroke risk factors and warning signs, or recognize the brain as the organ affected.

"Main findings are that stroke knowledge is poor with some groups being particularly uninformed, individuals do not personally believe stroke is something that can actually happen to them, and few individuals see primary health care workers as a resource for stroke prevention or care," the authors wrote.

"While this knowledge gap is daunting, it also illuminates multiple potential opportunities to improve general knowledge, especially among those at high risk for stroke and low level of education and help individuals in the future both reduce stroke risk and reduce complications should a stroke occur," they stated.

When asked what to do for a stroke, respondents said "going to hospital" most often (85.2 percent).

The researchers add that lack of knowledge about stroke among the public exists in developed countries such as the United States and Australia.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of mortality and disability worldwide, with developing countries accounting for 85 percent of global deaths from stroke. Lack of information and poor control of stroke risk-factors contribute to the rising incidence of stroke among Africans, according to the paper. Uganda is a nation in East Africa with a population of about 35 million people.

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The authors are Jane Nakibuuka, Elly Katabira, and Jayne Byakika-Tusiime of Makerere University College of Health Sciences; Edward Ddumba, St. Raphael of St. Francis Nsambya Hospital, Nkozi University; and Martha Sajatovic and Anthony J. Furlan of University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center have had a research relationship with Makerere University in Uganda for more than 25 years.

The ISRN Stroke study was published by National Institutes of Health's Pub Med on Sept. 6, 2014: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4156791/ The study was supported by a grant funded by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Dr. Furlan said the study is worth noting in light of Oct. 29 being World Stroke Day, which was established by the World Stroke Organization in 2006 to help spread public awareness of the world's high stroke risk and stroke prevalence. "While stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S., many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern. And this project, which involved a physician exchange program between Uganda and UH and Case Western Reserve, lets us know that education about stroke is needed in other areas of the world as well."

For more information about World Stroke Day, see http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/General/World-Stroke-Day-2012_UCM_444999_SubHomePage.jsp

About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report's "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine's primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. http://casemed.case.edu

About University Hospitals

University Hospitals, the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with 25,000 employees, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 15 hospitals, 28 outpatient health centers and primary care physician offices in 15 counties. At the core of our $3.5 billion health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, ranked among America's 50 best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in all 12 methodology-ranked specialties. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and genetics. Its main campus includes UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. For more information, go to http://www.uhhospitals.org

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