Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, which equates to more than 795,000 people per year. Of those affected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that African American adults are 50 percent more likely to have a stroke, and 70 percent more likely to die from a stroke compared to their non-Hispanic, White counterparts. This reality sparked community efforts to increase awareness of stroke prevention within parts of Chicago.

ATW Health Solutions and the First Ladies Health Initiative (FLHI) were each awarded PCORI-funded Engagement Awards to disseminate study results from the PCORI-funded Community Engagement for Early Recognition and Immediate Action in Stroke (CEERIAS) study, which found that when people knew the signs of a stroke, they were more likely to go to the emergency department for a suspected stroke than to ignore the symptoms.


Dr. Knitasha Washington
Knitasha Washington, DHA, MHA, FACHE

According to Knitasha Washington, DHA, MHA, FACHE, of ATW Health Solutions, “The dissemination of stroke prevention education materials provided real results.” ATW Health Solutions garnered nearly 4,000 individuals who pledged to call 911 if they witnessed someone having a stroke, and the FLHI was able to reach more than < 85,000 individuals across a network of churches with the information.

Each of these PCORI-funded Engagement Awards illustrated the benefits of including community voices into their dissemination efforts. Washington explained the virtual convening held under their project “ensured people of the community were equally a part of the development of the dissemination plan,” and leaned on a community advisory panel for input when building the study’s dissemination plan. Additionally, ATW Health solutions utilized community voices to help determine the preferred language and expectations for how information was shared, further improving their dissemination efforts.

While virtual efforts were critical for the FLHI Engagement Award project, its project lead, Tracey Alston, noted: “One of the most underutilized communications platform within their community is the first lady within a church [the pastor’s wife], and thus, the First Ladies Health Initiative was created.” The reach of the first ladies was harnessed as a dissemination channel, something she had also witnessed from her own grandmother who was a first lady. She stated, “Through the church's efforts, we were able to deliver stroke educational materials containing vital details, collect educational survey responses and raise stroke awareness.”

It takes meaningful collaboration to address health issues and eliminate disparities — not one group, system or community, but everyone working together toward a singular goal to improve outcomes and evidence.

Knitasha Washington, DHA, MHA, FACHE

Washington served as one of the original principal investigators for the CEERIAS study. Based on the success of these collaborative approaches, ATW Health Solutions is seeking ongoing efforts for education and outreach programs spanning beyond stroke prevention to include diabetes. FLHI plans to engage in a future project aimed at increasing awareness and management of posttraumatic stress disorder. Summarizing the importance of their projects’ dissemination work, Washington stated, “It takes meaningful collaboration to address health issues and eliminate disparities — not one group, system or community, but everyone working together toward a singular goal to improve outcomes and evidence.”

Posted: May 9, 2024


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