Indexed on: 02 Oct '15Published on: 02 Oct '15Published in: Preventing chronic disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and mortality rates are higher among African Americans than among people of other races/ethnicities. We aimed to understand how African American adults and adolescents conceptualize cardiovascular health and perceive related barriers and facilitators.This qualitative study was conducted as formative research for a larger study, Heart Healthy Lenoir, which aimed to reduce cardiovascular disease disparities among African Americans in eastern North Carolina, part of the widely-known "stroke belt" that runs through the southeastern United States. Using photovoice, a community-based participatory research method, we conducted eight 90-minute photovoice sessions with 6 adults and 9 adolescents in Lenoir County, North Carolina. Topics for each discussion were selected by participants and reflected themes related to cardiovascular health promotion. All sessions were transcribed and coded using a data-driven, inductive approach.Participants conceptualized cardiovascular health to have mental, spiritual, and social health dimensions. Given these broad domains, participants acknowledged many ecological barriers to cardiovascular health; however, they also emphasized the importance of personal responsibility. Facilitators for cardiovascular health included using social health (eg, family/community relationships) and spiritual health dimensions (eg, understanding one's body and purpose) to improve health behaviors.The perspectives of African American adults and adolescents elicited through this formative research provided a strong foundation for Heart Healthy Lenoir's ongoing engagement of community members in Lenoir County and development and implementation of its intervention to prevent cardiovascular disease.