A protocol for the Heart Matters stepped wedge cluster randomised trial: The effectiveness of heart attack education in regions at highest-risk

Janet E. Bray, Ziad Nehme, Judith C. Finn, Jessica Kasza, Robyn A. Clark, Dion Stub, Dominique A. Cadilhac, Amanda K. Buttery, Janelle Woods, Joosup Kim, Ben J. Smith, Karen Smith, Susie Cartledge, Alison Beauchamp, Natasha Dodge, Tony Walker, Elizabeth Flemming-Judge, Clara Chow, Mary Stewart, Nicholas CoxWilliam van Gaal, Voltaire Nadurata, Peter Cameron

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Aim: To describe the Heart Matters (HM) trial which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a community heart attack education intervention in high-risk areas in Victoria, Australia. These local government areas (LGAs) have high rates of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), cardiovascular risk factors, and low rates of emergency medical service (EMS) use for ACS. 

Methods: The trial follows a stepped-wedge cluster randomised design, with eight clusters (high-risk LGAs) randomly assigned to transition from control to intervention every four months. Two pairs of LGAs will transition simultaneously due to their proximity. The intervention consists of a heart attack education program delivered by trained HM Coordinators, with additional support from opportunistic media and a geo-targeted social media campaign. The primary outcome measure is the proportion of residents from the eight LGAs who present to emergency departments by EMS during an ACS event. Secondary outcomes include prehospital delay time, rates of OHCA and heart attack awareness. The primary and secondary outcomes will be analysed at the patient/participant level using mixed-effects logistic regression models. A detailed program evaluation is also being conducted. The trial was registered on August 9, 2021 (NCT04995900). 

Results: The intervention was implemented between February 2022 and March 2023, and outcome data will be collected from administrative databases, registries, and surveys. Primary trial data is expected to be locked for analysis by October 31st 2023, with a follow-up planned until March 31st 2024. 

Conclusion: The results from this trial will provide high-level evidence the effectiveness of a community education intervention targeting regions at highest-risk of ACS and low EMS use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100431
Number of pages8
JournalResuscitation Plus
Early online date25 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Community education
  • Emergency medical services
  • Health promotion
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Step-wedged design


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