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J Natl Black Nurses Assoc. 2006 Dec;17(2):13-23.

Health belief model perceptions, knowledge of heart disease, and its risk factors in educated African-American women: an exploration of the relationships of socioeconomic status and age.

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Deborah E. Jones, RN, PhD, is an Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD 21239, USA.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-American women in the United States. Although African-American women experience higher rates of heart disease with earlier onset and more severe consequences than White women do, they are not aware of their risk for the disease. The Health Belief Model (HBM) has been commonly used to guide preventive interventions in cardiovascular health. However, the HBM has not been evaluated for African-American women regarding its effectiveness. This study explored the perceptions of susceptibility and seriousness of heart disease, and the relationships between socioeconomic status (SES), age, and knowledge of heart disease and its risk factors among 194 educated African-American women from the southern United States. Participants did not perceive themselves to be at high risk for developing heart disease while perceiving heart disease as serious. African-American women who were older perceived heart disease to be more serious than their younger counterparts did. Older women and those with higher SES knew more about heart disease and risk factors. Neither SES nor age moderated the relationship between knowledge and perceived susceptibility or seriousness.

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