African Americans are more likely to have a stroke and suffer from greater disability after a stroke than Whites.  This is partially due to the fact that many African Americans do not make it to the hospital on time to receive a treatment that could drastically reduce the devastating effects.  Existing interventions  focus on teaching individuals to recognize the signs of stroke and to call 911. Yet, for many stroke victims, this may may not be enough.  Culture, economics and trust of the health care system all play an important role.

Researchers from the University of Michigan partnered with Bridges to the Future, a faith based organization in Flint, Michigan, to explore the barriers and facilitators to calling 911 for stroke among African Americans.  Using a focus group methodology, they explored factors that are often difficult to assess using surveys, such as religion, family, community, structural organization, and economics.

The study, published in the May issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, is the first of its kind to use a community-based participatory approach to examine stroke preparedness.

The team conducted nine focus groups of African American youth and adult participants. Three themes emerged: 1) Recognition that stroke is an emergency; 2) Distrust and negative perceptions of medical services in an under-resourced community; 3)The need for more information and education about stroke preparedness.

Key findings included:

–Both adults and youth participants recongized stroke symptoms and felt that stroke was a medical emergency

–Barriers to calling 911 including cost of an ambulance, emotions and stress, and EMS response time

–Church based and community based intervention settings would be valuable

This  successful academic-community partnership was originally formed through PRC’s  Partners In Research training course offered in 2010.    Study co-authors include: PRC Director Marc Zimmerman, and PRC research assistant Emily Greenberg, MPH.

Article Citation:  Skolarus, L.E., Murphy, J.B., Zimmerman, M.A., Bailey, S., Fowlkes, S., Brown, D.L., Lisabeth, L.D., Greenberg, E., Morgenstern, L.B. (2013). Individual and Community Determinants of Calling 911 for Stroke Among African Americans in an Urban Community, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

UMHS Press Release: http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201305/what-impacts-whether-african-americans-call-9-1-1