Epidemiologic studies often use self-report as proxy for clinical history. However, whether self-report correctly identifies prevalence in minority populations with health disparities and poor health-care access is unknown. Furthermore, overlap of clinical vascular events with covert vascular brain injury (VBI), detected by imaging, is largely unexamined.
The Strong Heart Study recruited American Indians from 3 regions, with surveillance and adjudication of stroke events from 1989 to 2013. In 2010-2013, all 817 survivors, aged 65-95 years, underwent brain imaging, neurological history interview, and cognitive testing. VBI was defined as imaged infarct or hemorrhage.
Adjudicated stroke was prevalent in 4% of participants and separately collected, self-reported stroke in 8%. Imaging-defined VBI was detected in 51% and not associated with any stroke event in 47%. Compared with adjudication, self-report had 76% sensitivity and 95% specificity. Participants with adjudicated or self-reported stroke had the poorest performance on cognitive testing; those with imaging-only (covert) VBI had intermediate performance.
In this community-based cohort, self-report for prior stroke had good performance metrics. A majority of participants with VBI did not have overt, clinically recognized events but did have neurological or cognitive symptoms. Data collection methodology for studies in a resource-limited setting must balance practical limitations in costs, accuracy, feasibility, and research goals.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.