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Racial/Ethnic Differences in Knowledge of Personal and Target Levels of Cardiovascular Health Indicators


This study aimed to examine ethnic differences in knowledge of personal and target levels of cardiovascular health indicators between non-Hispanic whites and African Americans. A secondary objective was to evaluate the associations between knowledge of cardiovascular health indicators and health promotion behaviors. Participants (66.7 % female) consisted of 265 whites and 428 African Americans, ages 18 and older recruited from primary care clinics and churches. Respondents completed a brief survey on blood pressure (BP), total cholesterol, blood glucose, body mass index (BMI), diet, and physical activity. Whites were more likely than African Americans to report knowing their personal and target levels of cardiovascular health indicators. Knowledge of personal BP and/or BMI was positively associated with actual physical activity, and awareness of personal blood glucose was positively associated with healthy dietary practices for participants in both groups. Among whites, awareness of personal BP and knowledge of target levels for BP, total cholesterol, and BMI were also associated with healthy diet. Results suggest there are racial/ethnic disparities in knowledge of personal and ideal levels of cardiovascular health indicators, and that this knowledge is related to health promotion behaviors. Targeted educational efforts are warranted to enhance knowledge of personal risk indicators among African Americans.

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This research was supported by a grant from the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

All respondents provided passive consent to participate in the study.

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Correspondence to Mindy Ma.

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Ma, M., Ma, A. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Knowledge of Personal and Target Levels of Cardiovascular Health Indicators. J Community Health 40, 1024–1030 (2015).

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  • African Americans
  • Racial/ethnic disparities
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Health promotion