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Stroke. 2000 May;31(5):1076-80.

Verifying the stroke-free phenotype by structured telephone interview.

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Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL 32224, USA.



Case-control, cohort, and twin studies support a genetic contribution to ischemic stroke risk. Sibling pair linkage methods require identification of concordant or discordant siblings or both. We designed and tested a structured telephone interview to verify the stroke-free phenotype.


A coordinator unaware of medical record data used an 8-item questionnaire to conduct a structured telephone interview of 70 outpatients aged >60 years. The questionnaire inquired about the sudden onset of deficits in strength, sensation, vision, and language. A subject was defined as stroke free by interview if responses to all items on the questionnaire were negative. Results of the telephone interview were compared with data obtained from a systematic medical record review (benchmark).


Interview time was 5 minutes or less for all subjects. All subjects who began the interview completed it. Records were reviewed in all subjects. Medical record review detected ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), or both, in 5 patients (7%). There were no significant differences in sex distribution or risk factor rates in patients who were designated stroke free or not stroke free by interview. Having 1 or more positive items on the questionnaire was significantly associated with finding stroke (P<0.001), TIA (P<0.001), or either stroke or TIA (P<0.001), on medical record review. The telephone interview had a sensitivity of 1.0 (95% CI 0.48 to 1.0), specificity of 0.86 (95% CI 0.75 to 0.93), positive predictive value of 0.36 (95% CI 0.13 to 0.65), and negative predictive value of 1.0 (95% CI 0.94 to 1.0).


Our instrument can identify the stroke-free individual with a high degree of confidence in a very efficient manner. It may be particularly suited for centralized verification of stroke discordancy in multicentered sib-pair genetic studies.

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