User profile of people contacting a stroke helpline (StrokeLine) in Australia: a retrospective cohort study
Background: StrokeLine is a specialised telephone helpline led by health professionals in Australia. Aims: (i) To describe the profile of StrokeLine callers; (ii) to understand the reasons people engage with the service and (iii) how StrokeLine responded to the caller's needs. Methods: Routine call data were obtained from the StrokeLine between November 2019 and November 2020. Data were extracted and descriptive analyses performed. De-identified free-text data were obtained separately for November 2019 and June 2020 and analysed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Of the 1429 calls most were from carers, family and friends (38%) or the stroke survivor themselves (34%). Most calls were made by women (64%) and the average age of the stroke survivor was ≥65 years (33%) with the time since the stroke occurred <1 year. The main reason for calling was to manage stroke-related impairments (40%). Providing information, support and advice was the most common action provided by StrokeLine staff (25%). Content analysis of 225 calls revealed most stroke survivors called for emotional support, while carers sought more practical guidance. StrokeLine provided information for referral to relevant services and guidance on what to do next. Conclusions: Most calls were received from family and carers, as well as stroke survivors. They contacted StrokeLine for information and advice, practical solutions, emotional support, and referral advice to other services.
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