Perceptions of heart-healthy behaviors among African American adults: A mixed methods study

Cheryl Der Ananian, Donna M. Winham, Sharon V. Thompson, Megan E. Tisue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


African Americans have a disproportionately higher risk of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, and hypertension than other ethnic or racial groups. Data regarding CVD-related perceptions and beliefs among African Americans are limited, particularly in the Southwest US. Assessment of current views regarding health and health behaviors is needed to tailor interventions to meet the unique needs of specific populations. We sought to examine knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of African Americans living in Arizona toward CVD and etiological factors associated with health behaviors and chronic disease development to inform state health agency program development. Transcripts from 14 focus groups (n = 103) were analyzed using Grounded Theory for perceived disease risk, knowledge of CVD risk factors, nutrition, preventative behaviors, and barriers and motivators to behavior change. Participants identified CVD, stroke, and diabetes as leading health concerns among African-Americans but were less certain about the physiological consequences of these diseases. Diet, stress, low physical activity, family history, hypertension, and stroke were described as key CVD risk factors, but overweight and obesity were mentioned rarely. Participants described low socio-economic status and limited access to healthy foods as contributors to disease risk. Focus group members were open to modifying health behaviors if changes incorporated their input and were culturally acceptable. Respondents were 41% male and 59% female with a mean age of 46 years. This study provides insight into CVD and associated disease-related perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes among African Americans in the Southwest and recommendations for interventions to reduce CVD risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2433
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Blacks
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diet
  • Ethnicity
  • Health communication
  • Health disparities
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Stress
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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