Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Education

First Advisor

Ritzel, Dale


Background: In the United States, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to National Vital Statistics Report (2009), heart disease was the number one killer in the United States and it can be prevented. The primary purpose of this study was to determine knowledge and health beliefs about CVD among selected undergraduate university students and find out the potential risk of developing CVD in this population. The secondary purpose was to assess the relationship between knowledge, health beliefs, and personal risks; the tertiary purpose was to determine the factors that predict the relationship between demographic variables and cardiovascular risk factors among these students. Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive, and correlational survey design was used in this quantitative study. An existing knowledge and health belief instrument was adapted with the permission from the authors. In the 2012 Spring semester, over 600 undergraduates from Foundation of Human Health, First Aid and CPR, Medical Terminology, Math, History, and Geography classes at a mid-western university were surveyed to access knowledge and health beliefs about CVD. The Health Belief Model provided the theoretical framework for this study. Results: Demographic data provided descriptive overview of the participants in this study. Majority of the participants were whites, lived off campus, and were domestic students. Results from data analysis revealed that overall knowledge about cardiovascular disease was low among these university students. Individual health beliefs such as perceived susceptibility, severity, and barriers regarding CVD were low; however perceived benefits of preventing CVD were found high. Most of the undergraduate university students were at potential risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Smoking and stress causing CVD were lesser known among undergraduate university students. Time to cook healthy meals and unaffordability of buying healthy foods were significant barriers in protecting cardiovascular health among university students. There was a positive statistically significant correlation between CVD knowledge, knowledge subtypes, and health belief subscales. Correlations between knowledge and health beliefs were weaker while comparing to correlation between CVD knowledge and knowledge subtypes. Race/ethnicity, age, family history, international/national, live on/off campus, and number of health classes were the better predictors of cardiovascular knowledge, while perceived barrier was the strongest predictor of health belief about CVD among undergraduate university students.




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