People with stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) are at increased risk of future stroke and other cardiovascular events. Evidence-based strategies for secondary stroke prevention have been established. However, the implementation of prevention strategies could be improved.
To assess the effects of stroke service interventions for implementing secondary stroke prevention strategies on modifiable risk factor control, including patient adherence to prescribed medications, and the occurrence of secondary cardiovascular events.
We searched the Cochrane Stroke Group Trials Register (April 2013), the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group Trials Register (April 2013), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2013, issue 3), MEDLINE (1950 to April 2013), EMBASE (1981 to April 2013) and 10 additional databases. We located further studies by searching reference lists of articles and contacting authors of included studies.
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effects of organisational or educational and behavioural interventions (compared with usual care) on modifiable risk factor control for secondary stroke prevention.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors selected studies for inclusion and independently extracted data. One review author assessed the risk of bias for the included studies. We sought missing data from trialists.
This review included 26 studies involving 8021 participants. Overall the studies were of reasonable quality, but one study was considered at high risk of bias. Fifteen studies evaluated predominantly organisational interventions and 11 studies evaluated educational and behavioural interventions for patients. Results were pooled where appropriate, although some clinical and methodological heterogeneity was present. The estimated effects of organisational interventions were compatible with improvements and no differences in the modifiable risk factors mean systolic blood pressure (mean difference (MD) -2.57 mmHg; 95% confidence interval (CI) -5.46 to 0.31), mean diastolic blood pressure (MD -0.90 mmHg; 95% CI -2.49 to 0.68), blood pressure target achievement (OR 1.24; 95% CI 0.94 to 1.64) and mean body mass index (MD -0.68 kg/m(2); 95% CI -1.46 to 0.11). There were no significant effects of organisational interventions on lipid profile, HbA1c, medication adherence or recurrent cardiovascular events. Educational and behavioural interventions were not generally associated with clear differences in any of the review outcomes, with only two exceptions.
Pooled results indicated that educational interventions were not associated with clear differences in any of the review outcomes. The estimated effects of organisational interventions were compatible with improvements and no differences in several modifiable risk factors. We identified a large number of ongoing studies, suggesting that research in this area is increasing. The use of standardised outcome measures would facilitate the synthesis of future research findings.