Perceptions of Rural African American Adults About the Role of Family in Understanding and Addressing Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

Katrina R. Ellis, Tiffany L. Young, Dana Carthron, Marcia Simms, Shirley McFarlin, Kia L. Davis, Guarav Dave, Giselle Corbie-Smith, Crystal Cené

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: African Americans (AAs) in rural south and southeast regions of the United States have among the highest prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the country. The purpose of this qualitative, exploratory study is to understand family influences on CVD-related knowledge and health-related behaviors among rural AA adults. Design: Qualitative descriptive study design using a community-based participatory research approach. Setting: Two rural North Carolina counties. Participants: Eligible participants were AA adults (at least 21 years of age), who self-reported either CVD diagnosis or selected CVD risk factor(s) for themselves or for an adult family member (N = 37). Method: Directed content analysis of semistructured interviews by community and academic partners. Results: Family health history and familial norms and preferences influenced participants’ CVD-related knowledge, beliefs, and health-related behaviors. Participants reported their families were helpful for increasing motivation for and overcoming barriers to healthy behaviors, including hard-to-access community resources and physical challenges. Conversely, and to a lesser extent, participants also reported that family members hindered or had little influence (positive or negative) on their engagement in healthy behaviors. Conclusion: Family played an important role in helping individuals overcome personal and community-related challenges. Efforts to reduce CVD burden among rural AAs should seek to understand the family-related facilitators, barriers, and processes associated with CVD knowledge and risk-reduction behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-717
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • African Americans
  • cardiovascular disease
  • community-based participatory research
  • family
  • health education and behavior
  • rural health


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