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BMC Fam Pract. 2013 Nov 1;14:165. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-14-165.

How does gender influence the recognition of cardiovascular risk and adherence to self-care recommendations?: A study in Polish primary care.

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Institute of Psychology, University of Silesia in Katowice, ul, Grażyńskiego 53, 40-126 Katowice, Poland.



Studies have shown a correlation between gender and an ability to change lifestyle to reduce the risk of disease. However, the results of these studies are ambiguous, especially where a healthy lifestyle is concerned. Additionally, health behaviors are strongly modified by culture and the environment. Psychological factors also substantially affect engagement with disease-related lifestyle interventions. This study aimed to examine whether there are differences between men and women in the frequency of health care behavior for the purpose of reducing cardiovascular risk (CVR), as well as cognitive appraisal of this type of risk. We also aimed to identify the psychological predictors of engaging in recommended behavior for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease after providing information about this risk in men and women.


A total of 134 consecutive eligible patients in a family practice entered a longitudinal study. At initial consultation, the individual's CVR and associated health burden was examined, and preventive measures were recommended by the physician. Self-care behavior, cognitive appraisal of risk, and coping styles were then assessed using psychological questionnaires. Six months after the initial data collection, the frequency of subjects' self-care behavior was examined.


We found an increase in health care behavior after providing information regarding the rate of CVR in both sexes; this increase was greater for women than for men. Women followed self-care guidelines more often than men, particularly for preventive measures and dietary advice. Women were more inclined to recognize their CVR as a challenge. Coping style, cognitive appraisal, age, level of health behaviors at baseline and CVR values accounted for 48% of the variance in adherence to self-care guidelines in women and it was 52% in men. In women, total risk of CVD values were most important, while in men, cognitive appraisal of harm/loss was most important.


Different predictors of acquisition of health behavior are encountered in men and women. Our results suggest that gender-adjusted motivation models influencing the recognition process need to be considered to optimize compliance in patients with CVR.

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