Community Engagement for Early Recognition and Immediate Action in Stroke (CEERIAS)

ATW’s research, evaluations, policy, and technical support work is designed to improve outcomes in quality and safety, eliminate health disparities in various disease states, and promote equity among at-risk populations. CEERIAS and 2CEERIAS projects demonstrate our commitment to this work.

Stroke is among the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Dr. Shaym Prabakaran (University of Chicago Medicine), Dr. Neelum Aggarwal (RUSH Medicine), and Dr. Knitasha Washington (ATW Health Solutions) teamed as co-investigators in 2014 to examine the impact of community-based education on stroke outcomes among Illinois at-risk population. As part of this study, ATW Health Solutions led the community engagement strategy, study design, and implementation. The results of the original CEERIAS study can be found here.

As a result of the impact of COVID-19, ATW Health Solutions expanded the CEERIAS examination to 2CEERIAS, where we evaluated methods of community engagement during COVID-19, education as early intervention, and barriers to accessing the health system. The results of the 2CEERIAS study can be found here.

Community Engagement for Early Recognition and Immediate Action in Stroke (2CEERIAS)

Stroke continues to rank among the leading causes of death and disability. Stroke is a time-sensitive disease, where early activation of the health care system and treatment can limit brain damage and its long-lasting effects on disability. Researchers have found that the risk for stroke is significantly higher for the African American, Latino, and other underserved populations on the West and South sides of Chicago.

The Community Engagement in Early Recognition and Immediate Action in Stroke (CEERIAS) study was funded by PCORI in 2014. The study objective was to use a patient- and community-partnered approach to develop and implement an effective intervention to increase early hospital arrival for acute stroke in two high-risk neighborhoods in Chicago. The research team created an educational program that prepared community leaders and patient advocates to recognize and train others in the community on the need to “Act FAST for Stroke.”  Through traditional community engagement methods, the knowledge and training shared by these Stroke Promoters helped bring greater community awareness. Simply, being aware of the speed and care given to patients who arrive at the hospital in time for lifesaving treatment, preferably by ambulance, helps to emphasize the importance of “acting FAST” in the community.

COVID-19 has also demonstrated gross disparities in health outcomes, changed our socialization construct, and shown an early connection to stroke. 2CEERIAS will examine the impact of COVID-19 on outcomes and explore recommendations for intervention modification by focusing on messaging and engagement using virtual platforms.

This project has three specific AIMS:

  1. Produce recommendations for future patient, family, and community-driven research priorities focused on stroke education and early treatment for Black and Latino communities.
  2. Address barriers to community stroke activation and assess the impact of neighborhood-level factors on stroke-related disability in the COVID-19 environment.
  3. Disseminate and track a modified educational intervention response among Chicagoland Stroke Promoters using online, social, and broadcast media.

2CEERIAS is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (EAIN 00196)..

From Research to Policy to Implementation

The CEERIAS/2CEERIAS project utilized engagement science to advance education and awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke among minority populations. Given the identified poor outcomes among persons from the black, Latinx, and other minority populations, it was essential to ensure that the outreach materials reflected the populations targeted in the project. The stroke promoters were given stroke educational materials and made them their own. They were empowered to adapt the industry standard stroke awareness materials to depict people who reflected their communities. The materials were adapted to reflect people from the black and brown communities while using plain language to ensure they were easy to understand. The project also ensured that barriers and burdens were identified among minority communities. Historically, healthcare interventions have not been inclusive. Community voices, insights, and feedback were collected to understand the barriers and adapt the interventions to meet their needs. A few examples were the updated FAST cards to reflect a person of color. One of the stroke promoters created a cartoon of her family to showcase the message and attract the younger population. Lastly, through the stroke promoters and community advisory board members, the project reached communities facing food insecurities by engaging the community members in food distribution centers, COVID-19 testing sites, and other community events.

New Stroke Education and Awareness Campaign in 2024

ATW Health Solutions is proud to announce that we are partnering with Governors State University to support a new stroke education and awareness campaign in Chicago’s Southland communities. More information is forthcoming. Additional background information is provided below.

In 2022, Dr. Tanya Roberson, one of the community Stroke Promoters and Director of Community Engagement at Governors State University, recommended a bill that funds community engagement and education to rid stroke disparities and lessen overall incidences.

The bill, written by Illinois House Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin, was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker in July 2022.

Illinois House Bill 5014
Requires the Department of Public Health to partner with Governors State University in establishing a 6-month outreach and educational campaign focused on promoting stroke awareness within Chicago’s Southland community, stroke recognition and prevention strategies, and access to reliable sources of information about strokes.