Background and Research Objective:
A woman’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease dramatically increases with the number of cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs). Early intervention to treat and address the risk for CVRFs can substantially reduce cardiovascular disease in women. However, women’s knowledge of CVRFs is poor, despite national media campaigns since 1997. Thus, the aims of this study were to investigate knowledge of CVRFs, level of self-nurturance, and heart-healthy behaviors in 35- to 55-year-old women.
Subjects and Methods:
This cross-sectional survey study was guided by the Nemcek Wellness Model, which proposes that health is enhanced through self-nurturance. Premenopausal women from medically underserved areas/populations or professional shortage areas were recruited from a chain discount department store on weekday evenings and weekend days. Women (N = 147) self-completed a survey on demographic information, measures of knowledge about CVRFs, participation in daily physical activity, and daily dietary intake.
Results and Conclusions:
Most participants were white (94.9%), with a mean age of 45.2 years. Participating women’s knowledge of CVRFs was higher than previously reported, but was not significantly (P > .05) related to any heart-healthy behaviors studied. Self-nurturance was moderately correlated with heart-healthy dietary intake scores (P = .002), but did not add further explanatory power for heart-healthy behaviors. The model’s key concepts of knowledge and self-nurturance provided minimal explanatory power in this study. These data suggest that women are becoming more knowledgeable about CVRFs but that increased knowledge has not been translated into behaviors that would sustain heart health. Future research is needed to explore the “intention-behavior gap” between knowing what one should do and implementing the recommended behavior changes and to assist women in translating knowledge of CVRFs into heart-healthy behaviors.