Development of an education campaign to reduce delays in pre-hospital response to stroke

On behalf of the Educazione e Ritardo di Ospedalizzazione (E.R.O.I) study group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Systematic reviews call for well-designed trials with clearly described intervention components to support the effectiveness of educational campaigns to reduce patient delay in stroke presentation. We herein describe the systematic development process of a campaign aimed to increase stroke awareness and preparedness. Methods: Campaign development followed Intervention Mapping (IM), a theory- and evidence-based tool, and was articulated in two phases: needs assessment and intervention development. In phase 1, two cross-sectional surveys were performed, one aiming to measure stroke awareness in the target population and the other to analyze the behavioral determinants of prehospital delay. In phase 2, a matrix of proximal program objectives was developed, theory-based intervention methods and practical strategies were selected and program components and materials produced. Results: In phase 1, the survey on 202 citizens highlighted underestimation of symptom severity, as in only 44% of stroke situations respondents would choose to call the emergency service (EMS). In the survey on 393 consecutive patients, 55% presented over 2 hours after symptom onset; major determinants were deciding to call the general practitioner first and the reaction of the first person the patient called. In phase 2, adult individuals were identified as the target of the intervention, both as potential "patients" and witnesses of stroke. The low educational level found in the patient survey called for a narrative approach in cartoon form. The family setting was chosen for the message because 42% of patients who presented within 2 hours had been advised by a family member to call EMS. To act on people's tendency to view stroke as an untreatable disease, it was decided to avoid fear-arousal appeals and use a positive message providing instructions and hope. Focus groups were used to test educational products and identify the most suitable sites for message dissemination. Conclusions: The IM approach allowed to develop a stroke campaign integrating theories, scientific evidence and information collected from the target population, and enabled to provide clear explanations for the reasons behind key decisions during the intervention development process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalBMC Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Cartoon
  • Intervention mapping
  • Media
  • Pre-hospital delay
  • Public campaign
  • Stroke


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