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Table 2 Characteristics of trials included in the meta-analysis

From: A systematic review and meta-analysis of acute stroke unit care: What’s beyond the statistical significance?

Trial Design Total number of patients Age Female% Inclusion criteria Stroke unit General medical ward Inpatient stay Follow-up Study quality (++, + or -)*
Athens [18, 19] RCT 608 SU: 70.5 GMW: 70.8 Unknown Acute stroke (onset to admission < 24 h) Unknown Unknown Unknown 1 month 1 year 5 years 6.5 years -
Akershus [17] CCT 550 SU: 77 GMW: 76 SU: 47% GMW: 47% ≥ 60 years; acute stroke (onset to admission < 24 h) Multidisciplinary collaboration + early examination + early mobilization (first hours after admission) + management on fluid, fever, hyperglycemia, hypertension Good medical treatment without special effort or standardized effort towards this patient group. Patients with hemorrhages were often immobilized for 1 week. No routine of giving antipyretics or parenteral iso-osmolar fluids. SU: 9.5 days GMW: 7.7 days 7 months -
Stockholm [20] CCT 494 SU: 73 GMW: 74 SU: 55% GMW: 63% Stroke onset within the previous week or TIA onset within last month Multidisciplinary collaboration + strict criteria for diagnosis and treatment + early active approach to mobilization and rehabilitation Resources for general patient care in the GMW and SU were not different. Principles of investigation and management of stroke differed, according to routine of consulting physicians SU: 21 days GMW: 20 days Till discharge -
Beijing [21] RCT 392 62 Unknown ≥ 18 years; stroke Multidisciplinary collaboration + early mobilization Unknown Unknown Till discharge -
Edinburgh [22, 23] RCT 311 Unknown Unknown ≥ 60 years Conscious, established or developing hemiplegia, mean interval from stroke onset to admission: 24 h Delay in starting physiotherapy treatment in SU: 3 days, in GMW: 3.8 days. No great differences in the use of speech therapy between SU and GMW. More aids or adaptations prescribed in SU to patient at discharge. Unknown SU: 55 days GMW: 75 days 60 days 1 year -
Umea [24] CCT 293 SU: 72 GMW: 73 SU: 42% GMW: 46% Acute stroke or TIA ( onset to admission < 7 days) No facility for intensive care. Multidisciplinary collaboration + early rehabilitation No standardized program or extra resources for stroke care. Same clinical assessment on admission. Regimes for treatment are uniform. SU: 21 days GMW: 31 days 1 year -
Goteborg-Sahlgren [12] RCT 249 SU: 80 GMW: 80 SU: 66% GMW: 54% ≥ 70 years; Acute stroke (onset to admission < 7 days, 80% in 24 h) Multidisciplinary collaboration + standard examination on admission + monitoring of body temperature, glucose level, fluid, electrolyte balance + discharge planning No standardized program or extra resources for the management of stroke patients. CT scan performed in 90% of patients SU: 28.3 days GMW: 35.8 days 3 weeks 3 months 1 year ++
Trondheim [25] RCT 220 SU: 72 GMW: 74 SU: 49% GMW: 50% Acute stroke (onset to admission < 7 days) Multidisciplinary approach + standard examination (e.g. CT in 24 h of admission) + management on blood pressure, fever, glucose level, fluid, electrolyte balance, cardiac and pulmonary disorders, oxygen Common treatment for patients with acute stroke in Norwegian hospitals. No standardized program for diagnostic evaluation and treatment SU: 16 days 52 weeks 5 years 10 years +
Joinville [26] RCT 74 SU: 65 GMW: 71 SU: 43% GMW: 41% Acute stroke (onset to admission < 7 days) Multidisciplinary collaboration Routine medical investigation or treatment by neurologists, physiotherapist, occupational therapist were identical to that undertaken at SU SU: 11 days GMW: 13 days 10 days 1 month 3 months 6 months -
Perth [27] RCT 59 SU: 69 GMW: 71 SU: 59% GMW: 47% Acute stroke (< 7 days duration) Multidisciplinary collaboration General physician, medical registrar and resident, ward nurse and allied health staff SU: 24 days GMW: 27 days 6 months +
  1. RCT: randomized controlled trial; CCT: controlled clinical trial; SU: stroke unit; GMW: general medical ward; TIA: transient ischemic attack.
  2. *Study quality was checked by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) checklist for randomized controlled trials (http://www.sign.ac.uk/methodology/checklists.html).
  3. ++: good quality (little bias on randomization, allocation concealment or other biases).
  4. +: acceptable quality (minor bias on randomization, allocation concealment or other biases).
  5. -: low quality (high risk of bias on randomization, allocation concealment or other biases).