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Awareness of stroke risk after TIA in Swiss general practitioners and hospital physicians


Streit, Sven; Baumann, Philippe; Barth, Jürgen; Mattle, Heinrich P; Arnold, Marcel; Bassetti, Claudio L; Meli, Damian N; Fischer, Urs (2015). Awareness of stroke risk after TIA in Swiss general practitioners and hospital physicians. PLoS ONE, 10(8):e0135885.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are stroke warning signs and emergency situations, and, if immediately investigated, doctors can intervene to prevent strokes. Nevertheless, many patients delay going to the doctor, and doctors might delay urgently needed investigations and preventative treatments. We set out to determine how much general practitioners (GPs) and hospital physicians (HPs) knew about stroke risk after TIA, and to measure their referral rates.
METHODS: We used a structured questionnaire to ask GPs and HPs in the catchment area of the University Hospital of Bern to estimate a patient's risk of stroke after TIA. We also assessed their referral behavior. We then statistically analysed their reasons for deciding not to immediately refer patients.
RESULTS: Of the 1545 physicians, 40% (614) returned the survey. Of these, 75% (457) overestimated stroke risk within 24 hours, and 40% (245) overestimated risk within 3 months after TIA. Only 9% (53) underestimated stroke risk within 24 hours and 26% (158) underestimated risk within 3 months; 78% (473) of physicians overestimated the amount that carotid endarterectomy reduces stroke risk; 93% (543) would rigorously investigate the cause of a TIA, but only 38% (229) would refer TIA patients for urgent investigations "very often". Physicians most commonly gave these reasons for not making emergency referrals: patient's advanced age; patient's preference; patient was multimorbid; and, patient needed long-term care.
CONCLUSIONS: Although physicians overestimate stroke risk after TIA, their rate of emergency referral is modest, mainly because they tend not to refer multimorbid and elderly patients at the appropriate rate. Since old and frail patients benefit from urgent investigations and treatment after TIA as much as younger patients, future educational campaigns should focus on the importance of emergency evaluations for all TIA patients.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are stroke warning signs and emergency situations, and, if immediately investigated, doctors can intervene to prevent strokes. Nevertheless, many patients delay going to the doctor, and doctors might delay urgently needed investigations and preventative treatments. We set out to determine how much general practitioners (GPs) and hospital physicians (HPs) knew about stroke risk after TIA, and to measure their referral rates.
METHODS: We used a structured questionnaire to ask GPs and HPs in the catchment area of the University Hospital of Bern to estimate a patient's risk of stroke after TIA. We also assessed their referral behavior. We then statistically analysed their reasons for deciding not to immediately refer patients.
RESULTS: Of the 1545 physicians, 40% (614) returned the survey. Of these, 75% (457) overestimated stroke risk within 24 hours, and 40% (245) overestimated risk within 3 months after TIA. Only 9% (53) underestimated stroke risk within 24 hours and 26% (158) underestimated risk within 3 months; 78% (473) of physicians overestimated the amount that carotid endarterectomy reduces stroke risk; 93% (543) would rigorously investigate the cause of a TIA, but only 38% (229) would refer TIA patients for urgent investigations "very often". Physicians most commonly gave these reasons for not making emergency referrals: patient's advanced age; patient's preference; patient was multimorbid; and, patient needed long-term care.
CONCLUSIONS: Although physicians overestimate stroke risk after TIA, their rate of emergency referral is modest, mainly because they tend not to refer multimorbid and elderly patients at the appropriate rate. Since old and frail patients benefit from urgent investigations and treatment after TIA as much as younger patients, future educational campaigns should focus on the importance of emergency evaluations for all TIA patients.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Complementary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:21 Dec 2015 11:39
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 15:59
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135885
PubMed ID:26284533

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