Stroke. 1997 Jun; 28(6): 1165-9.
Perspectives of stroke in persons living in Seoul, South Korea. A survey of 1000 subjects.
Department of Neurology, University of Ulsan, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The aim of the present study was to investigate the perspectives of stroke in persons who live in Seoul, South Korea, a country which is unique in that the social and political status of traditional (herbal) medicine is equal to that of western (modern) medicine. METHODS: We randomly selected 1000 persons living in Seoul, South Korea, and performed open-ended telephone interviews regarding stroke risk factors, symptoms, and the choice of treatment for stroke. We also asked whether the subjects would prefer to visit western-medicine doctors or traditional-medicine doctors if they developed stroke. RESULTS: Twenty-nine percent of the interviewees responded correctly that the most important risk factor for stroke is hypertension. However, other major factors, such as cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, and heart disease, were greatly underappreciated, while less important risk factors such as hyperlipidemia/obesity, stress, and exposure to coldness were overappreciated. Also, although 65% of the subjects correctly identified paresis as the most important symptom of stroke, tremor was indicated incorrectly as an important symptom of stroke. Regarding the choice of treatment, only 46% responded that visiting a hospital is the most important method of treatment, whereas a significant percentage of the subjects responded that they would prefer herbal medicine and other traditional methods of treatment. Generally, the older and less educated the subjects, the more they prefer to depend on traditional medicine. CONCLUSIONS: These data show that perspectives of stroke are heavily influenced by the presence of traditional medicine in Korea, especially in older and less educated persons. This perspective significantly deviates from the scientific concept regarding the etiology, symptoms, and treatment of stroke. Current science-based health education is urgently needed in this country.