Stroke Survivors’ Knowledge of Risk Factors for Stroke and their Post-Stroke Care Seeking Experiences: A cross-sectional study in rural southwestern Uganda
Introduction: Stroke is a major cause of morbidity and mortality globally. The aim of this study was to examine the stroke survivors’ knowledge of the risk factors for stroke, stroke warning signs and post stroke care seeking behaviour and signs of stroke in rural southwestern Uganda.
Materials and Methods: A mixed methods cross-sectional study was conducted from October 2018 to February 2019, with 25 stroke survivors in a general population cohort. Questionnaire were administered with 25 people and in-depth interviews conducted with 10 people. Descriptive statistics and thematic content analysis were applied to the quantitative and qualitative data, respectively.
Results: Participants described stroke as: a persistent numbness of a particular body part; a condition due to witchcraft; a sexually transmitted infection (‘obulwadde bw’obukaba’); a disease parents get when a daughter engages in pre-marital sex in their home (‘obuko’). The participants reported that their awareness of their own hypertension and diabetes increased post-stroke. Participants also reported that their smoking prevalence decreased in the post-stroke period. Participants reported experiencing persistent headaches and numbness but did not associate them with stroke. Participants responding to the questionnaire described post-stroke care as biomedical (19/25), traditional (13/25) and for rehabilitation (10/25). The participants also described delays in seeking medical care because either they did not know what to do, or they thought the stroke was a self-limiting brief episode or that they required alternative treatment to biomedical care.
Conclusion: Misconceptions around the causes of stroke, and poor care seeking behaviour suggests a need for health education to improve community knowledge about risk factors and warning signs of stroke to help reduce incidence and improve post stroke treatment outcomes.