Stroke Knowledge: How is it Impacted by Rural Location, Age, and Gender?


  • Kathleen A. Ennen University of North Carolina-Wilmington
  • Julie Zerwic University of Illinois at Chicago



Background and Research Objective  Stroke, the third-leading cause of Americans' deaths, is often not recognized causing fatal or disabling delays in receiving effective, time-sensitive treatment. To understand the delay in seeking treatment, a sample of rural and non-rural adult residents were surveyed using the Stroke Recognition Questionnaire (SRQ) to assess their level of knowledge of stroke symptoms and risk factors. Sample and Method  Five hundred and sixty-six individual (283 rural and 283 non-rural) from six East Central Illinois counties responded to the self-administered SRQ mail survey. The five-element design method for mail surveys guided this survey implementation procedure.  Results   Rural and younger (20-64 years) respondents had significantly higher stroke symptom knowledge scores (M = 9.32) compared to non-rural and older (> 65 years) respondents (M = 9.0; t =2.181, p <.03). Confusion was the most frequently recognized stroke symptom by rural and women respondents. Stroke risk factor knowledge scores  revealed no significant differences by residence location, age, and gender. Younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to identify high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes as stroke risk factors.  Conclusions  Rural respondents were more knowledgeable about stroke symptoms than has been found in other earlier studies. Results indicate that stroke  educational efforts should target the elderly (> 65 years), who have the greatest stroke risk but who appear to be least informed. Educational interventions are needed in both rural and urban settings which improve the general public’s stroke symptom recognition and response, and help the public sort out which symptoms are associated with stroke versus myocardial infarction.