Disparities in Sepsis Awareness Highlighted in 2022 Survey

September 13, 2022

Significant differences in gender, race, ethnicity, and education status still exist in sepsis awareness and knowledge.

This World Sepsis Day, Sepsis Alliance would like to share the results of the 2022 sepsis awareness survey. This year’s annual survey was conducted by YouGov Plc to measure awareness of the term “sepsis” in a representative population of United States adults. The 2022 survey found 66% of U.S. adults were aware of the term sepsis yet only 19% of them could correctly identify all four of the most common sepsis symptoms. Additionally, there were significant differences in awareness levels based on race/ethnicity, annual household income, education level, and gender. 

Sepsis, the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, affects an estimated 49 million people worldwide each year. More than 1.7 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with sepsis each year and 350,000 of those adults die. Sepsis Alliance, the nation’s first and leading sepsis organization, strives to save lives and reduce suffering by improving sepsis awareness and care through public and healthcare provider education programs, survivor support, and patient advocacy. As many as 80% of septic shock patients can be saved with rapid diagnosis and treatment.  

In 2003, the first sepsis awareness survey found 19% of U.S. adults were aware of the term sepsis. As Sepsis Alliance has expanded efforts to educate healthcare professionals, the general public, and the media on sepsis, awareness levels have risen, with a peak of 71% awareness in 2020. The 2022 survey focused on examining the awareness levels among different populations.

The 2022 awareness survey showed statistically significant differences in awareness of the term sepsis among four self-identified demographic categories: gender, race/ethnicity, education level, and annual household income. Seventy-two percent (72%) of those who identified as women were aware of sepsis while only 59% of those who identified as men were aware. The survey also found that those who identified as white were significantly more likely to be aware of the term sepsis (76%) than those who identified as Black (44%) and those who identified as Hispanic (40%), though Black and “other nonwhite” individuals have nearly twice the incidence of sepsis as white individuals. Finally, those with a high school education or less (50%) and those with an annual household income of less than $40,000 (57%) displayed significantly less awareness of the term than those with advanced education and with higher annual household incomes.

The information about disparities gathered in this year’s awareness survey can provide insight for Sepsis Alliance’s awareness and educational activities into the future. In 2021, Sepsis Alliance released an internal equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) pledge in response to our increased awareness of disparities in healthcare based on socioeconomic status, race, and other factors. This organization-wide commitment led to an external EDI pledge for corporate, nonprofit, and healthcare partners working in the public health space, knowing that a collective can make the largest impact to save more lives from sepsis.  

Though 66% of U.S. adults are aware of the term sepsis, only 19% of those aware can identify all four of the common symptoms of sepsis that should lead a person to seek emergency care. There were disparities among the 19% who correctly identified all four common symptoms. Those who identify as white (21%) were more likely to identify all four symptoms over those who identified as Black (7%) and Hispanic (11%). In 2018, Sepsis Alliance launched Sepsis: It’s About TIME™, a national campaign to share the signs and symptoms of sepsis and the need to seek urgent medical attention should those signs and symptoms present. The award-winning campaign has been picked up all over the world, but Sepsis Alliance understands the need to continue spreading this message to raise awareness among all populations. Additionally, Sepsis Alliance has increased the number of resources available in Spanish, including pieces of the It’s About TIME campaign.  

These disparities in awareness across gender, race/ethnicity, education level, and annual household income, as well as the low awareness of sepsis signs and symptoms, provide direction for Sepsis Alliance’s work into the future. The assistance and support of our sepsis awareness advocates will help drive higher awareness levels and a more equitable healthcare landscape. Here are some ways that you can help:  

1 – Share Sepsis Alliance information on social media. Follow Sepsis Alliance on social media and share our posts to spread sepsis information and awareness with your friends and family.  

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2 – Share Sepsis Alliance Videos. Check out the Sepsis Alliance YouTube channel and share our informative videos with your friends, family, colleagues, and community. Our new What is Sepsis? Video goes through the definition of sepsis, who is most vulnerable, and the signs and symptoms to watch for. Watch the video below, then click “Share.”  



3 – Ask your government to act with Sepsis Alliance Voices. Saving lives and reducing suffering from sepsis requires more than educating healthcare providers and the public. It also requires speaking out in our communities and in halls of power. Find actions you can take based on your city and state at SepsisVoices.org.  


Download the full 2022 sepsis awareness survey here. 



Sepsis Alliance, the first and leading sepsis organization in the U.S., seeks to save lives and reduce suffering by improving sepsis awareness and care. More than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with sepsis each year in the U.S. with more than 350,000 adults dying and over 50% of survivors experiencing post-sepsis syndrome and other lingering effects, including amputations. At Sepsis Alliance’s founding in 2003, only 19% of U.S. adults were aware of the term “sepsis.” After over ten years of educational efforts for the general public and healthcare professionals through Sepsis.org, Sepsis Alliance Clinical Community, Sepsis Alliance Institute, and Sepsis Alliance Voices, awareness is at 66%. Over 30,000 healthcare professionals across the country have attended sepsis webinars and courses to elevate their practice. Sepsis Alliance is the convener of Sepsis Innovation Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder public/private collaborative dedicated to innovations in sepsis diagnosis and management. Sepsis Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and a GuideStar Platinum Rated charity. For more information, please visit www.sepsis.org and connect with Sepsis Alliance onFacebook,Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedInat @SepsisAlliance. 


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2451 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 7th July 2022.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).