Can a smart-phone app help fight stroke?
Cross-institutional team to pilot the use of a digital education solution for medication adherence and stroke prevention
A team of University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers has received funding from the Stroke Foundation to pilot a new smart-phone learning app to improve patient adherence to medication plans in the fight against stroke.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Fellow, Associate Professor Caleb Ferguson’s team has been awarded $100,000 under the 2023 Nancy and Vic Allen Stroke Prevention Memorial Grant, which supports and encourages stroke prevention research, combining best-practice medical care and evidence-based integrative care.
The trial program, which will involve 60 patients of Blacktown and Sutherland Hospitals, will encourage patients who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF) to engage with a series of case studies and learning modules for stroke prevention, delivered through an interactive phone and tablet app.
AF is associated with one-third of all strokes. These strokes are highly preventable through the use of life-saving anticoagulation medications, however, adherence to prescriptions is a persistent problem, with approximately 30 per cent of patients not taking their medication correctly within six months.
The study will examine the impact of a bespoke digital education program on patients taking their medication as prescribed for AF and in turn observe its impact hospitalisation rates, quality of life, knowledge and mortality.
Associate Professor Caleb Ferguson and team have been researching this area now for over a decade.
“Our mission is to revolutionise stroke prevention through scalable technology to enable the widespread provision of theory-driven education to support behaviour change and help fight stroke,” Associate Professor Ferguson said.
“Medication adherence and persistence is known to be very poor. Although this is a complex issue, having more knowledgeable and empowered patients can help address medication adherence.”
The study is led by Dr Caleb Ferguson with a cross-institutional team from UOW, Blacktown Hospital, and the Western Sydney Local Health District. The team includes investigators from Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Technology Sydney, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Sutherland Hospital and The George Institute for Global Health.
The study builds on the team successful foundational research that received funding from the Heart Foundation and the National Health and Medical Research Council that has demonstrated good feasibility and acceptability.