We are a team of graduate students from the Translational Research Program at the University of Toronto. Thanks to the funds provided by the Center for Community Partnerships, we were able to complete our capstone project, titled “Primary Stroke Prevention: Comparison of Information Sharing Preferences of At-risk Patients with Family Physicians’ Practices”. The overarching framework for this capstone project used the translational thinking design, which consists of two phases: problem exploration phase and translation phase. This is a key conceptual framework for translational researchers to define the problem in the context of the needs of the people and design a project that can have an impact in the community. While the goal for our capstone project was to complete the exploration phase, the translation phase was left to be conducted post-masters.
As part of our exploration and to help conclude this phase of the translational thinking framework, we conducted a mixed methods study. It was during this part of the capstone project that we used the funds provided by the Center for Community Partnerships, for which we are very thankful. For this study, we recruited 14 at-risk patients (e.g. hypertension, dyslipidemia, atrial fibrillation), 5 stroke survivors and 13 family physicians.
We used quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (focus groups/interviews) methods to address three main questions:
– What is the current stroke literacy?
– What are the barriers to effective preventing counselling?
– What types of communication strategies would be perceived to be effective for promoting education of primary stroke prevention?
The results of our study indicate limitations in the literacy of stroke survivors and at-risk patients, and limitations in the abilities of family physicians in managing stroke risk factors and stroke prevention. Primarily, we found that there is a large gap between family physicians’ education on primary stroke prevention to their patients in comparison with patients’ perceptions. Top barriers to primary prevention from the family physician’s perspective include the lack of time, funding, prioritization of unhealthy lifestyles, team-based solutions, convenient and effective risk assessment tools, guideline-based physician education, and coherent patient education materials.
During the next part of the project we plan to use the information gathered during this exploration phase and develop translational prototypes in partnership with the three stakeholders to improve patient education and self-empowerment in stroke prevention. Also, we are certain that our research will serve as a stepping stone for other researchers interested in generating tangible solutions for people in the community.
Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to the Centre for Community Partnerships at the University of Toronto. The completion of our research project would not have been possible without their incredible support!