BeAWARE Program on Recognising Heart Attack for General Practice Staff

By Petrina Smith
Monday, 30 June, 2014

An online program to educate general practice staff, specifically non-clinical (reception staff), on the best ways to identify patients with suspected warning signs of heart attack and stroke has shown huge increases in awareness, confidence and intended action taken by staff who completed the program.
The results of the e-learning program ‘BeAWARE of warning signs of heart attack and stroke’ developed by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and National Stroke Foundation were published in the June edition of Australian Family Physician journal.[i]
The Heart Foundation analysed the data of the 1,865 participants from 815 general practices around Australia who completed the e-learning program between May 2012 to December 2012.
Key results from BeAWARE:

  1. Significant increases in awareness (recall) of common heart attack symptoms:

  • Awareness of tightness in chest doubled (23% to 49%)

  • Awareness of jaw pain and back pain tripled (jaw pain 27% to 80% and back pain 16% to 46%)

  1. Significant increases in awareness (recall) of common stroke symptoms:

  • Awareness of facial droop doubled (43% to 88%)

  • Awareness of unable to raise arms increased six-fold (14% to 83%).

The Heart Foundation’s National Director of Cardiovascular Health, and co-author of the publication, Dr Robert Grenfell said the uptake of BeAWARE has exceeded expectations, with approximately 12 per cent of practices nationally participating.
“It is encouraging and rewarding that the program is having a real impact on non-clinical (reception) staff’s knowledge of the warning signs of heart attack and stroke and that it’s potentially saving lives,” Dr Grenfell said.
The training also resulted in tripling the confidence of non-clinical (reception) staff in knowing what to do if a patient presents with warning signs of heart attack or stroke (from 25% before  to 82% after completing the program).
“With non-clinical staff being the first port of call for patients entering the general practice, we feel it is essential that they feel confident to promptly identify patients presenting with urgent/life threatening emergencies such as heart attack and stroke.”
Following the program, non-clinical staff also said they were more likely to immediately inform a nurse or GP when a patient presents with warning signs of heart attack or stroke (64.1% to 74.8%).
Since the e-learning module for general practice staff was launched in May 2012 almost 4,000 non-clinical staff and health professionals have completed the training and a module for pharmacy staff (BeAWARE Pharmacy) was launched in October 2013, completed by almost 1,000 professionals.
BeAWARE is free to all practices and staff. To find more information or to register and access the online learning modules visit
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