Open Access Research article

Community awareness of stroke in Accra, Ghana

Eric S Donkor15*, Mayowa O Owolabi2, Patrick Bampoh3, Thor Aspelund45 and Vilmundur Gudnason45

Author Affiliations

1 College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

2 Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan and University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

3 Tamale Central Hospital, Tamale, Ghana

4 Icelandic Heart Association Research Institute, Kopavogur, Iceland

5 Centre for Public Health Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:196  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-196

Published: 21 February 2014



Community awareness of stroke, especially the risk factors and warning signs is important in the control of the disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, little is known about community awareness of stroke though the brunt of stroke is currently borne in this region. The aim of the study was to evaluate stroke awareness in Accra (capital city of Ghana) particularly, the risk factors and warning signs.


This was a cross-sectional study involving systematic sampling of 63 households in each of the 11 sub metropolitan areas of Accra. A structured questionnaire was used to collect stroke awareness data from respondents randomly sampled in the selected households. Logistic regression analyses were done to identify predictors of the main outcome variables including recognition of stroke risk factors, stroke warning signs and the organ affected by stroke.


Only 40% (n = 277) of the 693 respondents correctly identified the brain as the organ affected in stroke. Similarly, less than half of the respondents could recognize any of the established stroke risk factors as well as any of the established stroke warning signs. Over 70% (n > 485) of the respondents either believed that stroke is a preventable disease, or lifestyle alterations can be made to reduce the risk of stroke, or stroke requires emergency treatment. In multivariate analysis, predictors of stroke awareness were: age <50 years (OR = 0.56, CI = 0.35-0.92, p = 0.021), presence of a stroke risk factor (OR = 2.37, CI = 1.52-3.71, p < 0.001) and Christian Religion (OR = 14.86, CI = 1.37-161.01, p = 0.03).


Though stroke is perceived as a serious and preventable disease in Accra, community awareness of the risk factors and warning signs is sub-optimal. This indicates that community-based education programs to increase public awareness of stroke could contribute to decreasing the risk of stroke and to increasing the speed of hospital presentation after stroke onset.

Stroke; Risk factors; Warning signs; Brain; Accra