The impact of the UK 'Act FAST' stroke awareness campaign: Content analysis of patients, witness and primary care clinicians' perceptions


Dombrowski SU, Mackintosh JE, Sniehotta FF, Araujo-Soares V, Rodgers H, Thomson RG, Murtagh MJ, Ford GA, Eccles MP & White M (2013) The impact of the UK 'Act FAST' stroke awareness campaign: Content analysis of patients, witness and primary care clinicians' perceptions. BMC Public Health, 13 (1), Art. No.: 915.

Background: The English mass media campaign ‘Act FAST' aimed to raise stroke awareness and the need to call emergency services at the onset of suspected stroke. We examined the perceived impact and views of the campaign in target populations to identify potential ways to optimise mass-media interventions for stroke. Methods: Analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted as part of two qualitative studies, which examined factors influencing patient/witness response to acute stroke symptoms (n = 19 stroke patients, n = 26 stroke witnesses) and perceptions about raising stroke awareness in primary care (n = 30 clinicians). Both studies included questions about the ‘Act FAST' campaign. Interviews were content analysed to determine campaign awareness, perceived impact on decisions and response to stroke, and views of the campaign. Results: Most participants were aware of the Act FAST campaign. Some patients and witnesses reported that the campaign impacted upon their stroke recognition and response, but the majority reported no impact. Clinicians often perceived campaign success in raising stroke awareness, but few thought it would change response behaviours. Some patients and witnesses, and most primary care clinicians expressed positive views towards the campaign. Some more critical participant comments included perceptions of dramatic, irrelevant, and potentially confusing content, such as a prominent ‘fire in the brain' analogy. Conclusions: Act FAST has had some perceived impact on stroke recognition and response in some stroke patients and witnesses, but the majority reported no campaign impact. Primary care clinicians were positive about the campaign, and believed it had impacted on stroke awareness and recognition but doubted impact on response behaviour. Potential avenues for optimising and complementing mass media campaigns such as ‘Act FAST' were identified.

Delay; Stroke; Awareness; Mass-media campaign

BMC Public Health: Volume 13, Issue 1

Publication date02/10/2013
PublisherBioMed Central Ltd