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Public Health. 2001 Jul;115(4):253-60.

Understanding of heart disease and diabetes in a South Asian community: cross-sectional study testing the 'snowball' sample method.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


South Asian people living in the UK have a higher rate of heart disease and non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Research into health knowledge and beliefs around these diseases is lacking. Accessing South Asian communities is difficult and is a barrier to research. We have undertaken a cross-sectional survey of South Asian people living in South Tyneside (UK) in 1996 based on a snowball sample to assess understanding of heart disease and diabetes. 334 South Asian men and women aged 16-74 y were interviewed. For heart disease, 115 (35%) people said they did not understand the meaning of the term, 62 (19%) were unable to provide any description, 48 (14%) could not give a single cause, and 54 (17%) could not suggest a preventive measure. For diabetes, 92 (28%) people did not understand the term, 43 (13%) could not provide any description, 75 (22%) were unable to suggest any risk factor and 64 (20%) could not give a preventive measure. For both heart disease and diabetes, two-thirds of respondents said they did not understand enough about the conditions to prevent them. There were important differences by sex and country of origin on the level of understanding with women and Bangladeshi people having lower levels of knowledge. Three of 20 people diagnosed with heart disease knew no preventive measure, and of 16 people with diabetes, six could not name any risk factors for diabetes. There is a major, urgent need for education within the South Asian communities on the causes and prevention of heart disease and diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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