Risk of cardiovascular disease? A qualitative study of risk interpretation among patients with high cholesterol
1 Research Unit for General Practice & Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
2 School Public Health, Section for General Practice, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 2, DK-8000 Aarhus, C, Denmark
3 Cochrane Institute of Primary Care and Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
4 General Practice Research Unit, Institute of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromso, Norway
5 Research Unit for General Practice, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:137 doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-137Published: 16 September 2013
Previous studies have shown the importance of paying attention to lay peoples’ interpretations of risk of disease, in order to explain health-related behavior. However, risk interpretations interplay with social context in complex ways. The objective was to explore how asymptomatic patients with high cholesterol interpret risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fourteen patients with high cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease were interviewed, and patterns across patient accounts were identified and analysed from an ethnographic approach.
Information from the general practitioner about high cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease was reinterpreted in everyday social life. The risk associated with fatty foods was weighed against the pleasures of social and cultural events in which this type of food was common and cherished.
A positive mindset was applied as a strategy to lower the risk of having high cholesterol, but knowledge about risk was viewed as a cause of anxiety and self-absorption, and this anxiety made the body susceptible to disease, hampering the chances for healthy life.
Interpretations of high cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease are embedded in social relations and everyday life concerns. This should be addressed in general practice in preference-sensitive cases about risk-reducing medication.