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BMC Public Health. 2013 Oct 12;13:956. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-956.

Illness cognition as a predictor of exercise habits and participation in cardiac prevention and rehabilitation programs after acute coronary syndrome.

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Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel.



Despite well-established medical recommendations, many cardiac patients do not exercise regularly either independently or through formal cardiac prevention and rehabilitation programs (CPRP). This non-adherence is even more pronounced among minority ethnic groups. Illness cognition (IC), i.e. the way people perceive the situation they encounter, has been recognized as a crucial determinant of health-promoting behavior. Few studies have applied a cognitive perspective to explain the disparity in exercising and CPRP attendance between cardiac patients from different ethnic backgrounds. Based on the Health Belief Model (HBM) and the Common Sense Model (CSM), the objective was to assess the association of IC with exercising and with participation in CPRP among Jewish/majority and Arab/minority patients hospitalized with acute coronary syndrome.


Patients (N = 420) were interviewed during hospitalization (January-2009 until August- 2010) about IC, with 6-month follow-up interviews about exercise habits and participation in CPRP. Determinants that predict active lifestyle and participation in CPRP were assessed using backward stepwise logistic regression.


Perceived susceptibility to heart disease and sense and personal control were independently associated with exercising 6 months after the acute event (OR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.42-0.80 and OR = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.02-1.17, per unit on a 5-point scale). Perceived benefits of regular exercise and a sense of personal control were independently associated with participation in CPRP (OR = 1.56, 95% CI: 1.12-2.16 and OR = 1.08, 95% CI: 1.01-1.15, per unit on a 5-point scale). None of the IC variables assessed could explain the large differences in health promoting behaviors between the majority and minority ethnic groups.


IC should be taken into account in future interventions to promote physical activity and participation in CPRP for both ethnic groups. Yet, because IC failed to explain the gap between Arab and Jewish patients in those behaviors, other explanatory pathways such as psychological state or cultural views should be considered as potential areas for further research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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