Mass media interventions have been implemented to improve emergency response to stroke given the emergence of effective acute treatments. A new study shows that campaigns aimed at the public may raise awareness of symptoms and signs of stroke, but have limited impact on behavior.

Mass media campaigns can be successful in improving knowledge and changing behaviors in other fields of health and safety promotion. Unlike other interventions, such as stroke patient education and community stroke screening programs, mass media campaigns have the potential to improve knowledge and awareness and change the behaviors of a large number of people.

The study suggests that new campaigns to educate the public on the signs and symptoms of stroke should follow the principles of good design and be robustly evaluated.

1. Lecouturier J, Rodgers H, Murtagh MJ, et al. Systematic review of mass media interventions designed to improve public recognition of stroke symptoms, emergency response and early treatment. BMC Public Health 2010; 10: 784. (open access)