Tuesday, 22 December 2015

National Stroke Foundation grant win for prehospital team

Senior Research Fellow Dr Janet Bray, has won a project grant of $19,200 to investigate the impact of the National Stroke Foundation’s (NSF) ‘FAST’ stroke awareness campaigns on emergency health care utilisation.

This project fits under Dr Bray’s National health and Medical research Council (NHMRC)/NHF Early Career Fellowship, “Improving early recognition and response to symptoms in acute cardiovascular events”. The investigators on the project include Dr Bray, Associate Professor Karen Smith, Professor Judith Finn and Professor Chris Bladin from the Florey Institute.

Since 2004 the NSF has conducted public awareness campaigns promoting the common symptoms of stroke and the need to promptly call an ambulance.

However a recent systematic review revealed that high-quality, population-based evaluations of such campaigns are lacking, and Dr Bray hopes this study will provide that vital information.

In her previous research Dr Bray has established that these campaigns have improved the Australian public’s awareness of stroke symptoms and increased calls to ambulance.

“Campaigns like these increase calls to ambulance for stroke by about 10 percent,” Dr Bray said.

The next step is to determine if the increase in ambulance calls are actually for strokes or at least conditions requiring an ambulance response.

“We know that demand for ambulance is already high and we want to make sure the increase associated with these type of campaigns is appropriate,” Dr Bray said.

The study also aims to examine the impact of the campaigns on emergency departments.

The retrospective observational study will collect and link data from Ambulance Victoria (emergency calls) and the Victorian Department of Health (emergency admissions) between 2008 and 2015 and explore these changes, providing direction for future intervention.

“Improving the recognition and response to acute stroke is critical to improving access to time critical treatments, like thrombolysis. Even small increases in the proportion of patients treated will benefit both survivors and society,” Dr Bray said.

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