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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009 Sep;6(9):2481-99. doi: 10.3390/ijerph6092481. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Context and cardiovascular risk modification in two regions of Ontario, Canada: a photo elicitation study.

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  • 1Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5T 1P8, Canada.


Cardiovascular diseases, which include coronary heart diseases (CHD), remain the leading cause of death in Canada and other industrialized countries. This qualitative study used photo-elicitation, focus groups and in-depth interviews to understand health behaviour change from the perspectives of 38 people who were aware of their high risk for CHD and had received information about cardiovascular risk modification while participating in a larger intervention study. Participants were drawn from two selected regions: Sudbury and District (northern Ontario) and the Greater Toronto Area (southern Ontario). Analysis drew on concepts of place and space to capture the complex interplay between geographic location, sociodemographic position, and people's efforts to understand and modify their risk for CHD. Three major sites of difference and ambiguity emerged: 1) place and access to health resources; 2) time and food culture; and 3) itineraries or travels through multiple locations. All participants reported difficulties in learning and adhering to new lifestyle patterns, but access to supportive health resources was different in the two regions. Even within regions, subgroups experienced different patterns of constraint and advantage. In each region, "fast" food and traditional foods were entrenched within different temporal and social meanings. Finally, different and shifting strategies for risk modification were required at various points during daily and seasonal travels through neighbourhoods, to workplaces, or on vacation. Thus health education for CHD risk modification should be place-specific and tailored to the needs and resources of specific communities.


cardiovascular disease; cardiovascular risk modification; health behaviour; place; qualitative methods

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