Open Access Research article

Stroke risk perception among participants of a stroke awareness campaign

Klaus Kraywinkel1, Jan Heidrich1, Peter U Heuschmann1, Markus Wagner2 and Klaus Berger1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Muenster, Germany

2 German Stroke Foundation, Guetersloh, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-39

Published: 20 March 2007



Subjective risk factor perception is an important component of the motivation to change unhealthy life styles. While prior studies assessed cardiovascular risk factor knowledge, little is known about determinants of the individual perception of stroke risk.


Survey by mailed questionnaire among 1483 participants of a prior public stroke campaign in Germany. Participants had been informed about their individual stroke risk based on the Framingham stroke risk score. Stroke risk factor knowledge, perception of lifetime stroke risk and risk factor status were included in the questionnaire, and the determinants of good risk factor knowledge and high stroke risk perception were identified using logistic regression models.


Overall stroke risk factor knowledge was good with 67–96% of the participants recognizing established risk factors. The two exceptions were diabetes (recognized by 49%) and myocardial infarction (57%). Knowledge of a specific factor was superior among those affected by it. 13% of all participants considered themselves of having a high stroke risk, 55% indicated a moderate risk. All major risk factors contributed significantly to the perception of being at high stroke risk, but the effects of age, sex and education were non-significant. Poor self-rated health was additionally associated with high individual stroke risk perception.


Stroke risk factor knowledge was high in this study. The self perception of an increased stroke risk was associated with established risk factors as well as low perception of general health.