Open Access Research article

Chronic disease knowledge and its determinants among chronically ill adults in rural areas of Shanxi Province in China: a cross-sectional study

Miaomiao Tian, Yingchun Chen, Rui Zhao, Li Chen, Xi Chen, Da Feng and Zhanchun Feng*

Author Affiliations

School of Medicine and Health Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hang Kong Road, China

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:948  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-948

Published: 22 December 2011



Chronic disease knowledge is an important prerequisite for an individual to implement behavioural changes towards the prevention and control of chronic diseases (CDs). Limited information is available about the relationship between different levels of health services and CD knowledge among rural residents with CDs. This research explores the distribution characteristics of CD knowledge and its determinants among chronically ill adults in rural China according to the aspects of patients and health service providers.


A cross-sectional study was undertaken to estimate distribution characteristics of CD knowledge and collect data of socio-demographic characteristics, healthcare institutions attendances, duration of illness, and family history of CDs. Participants were 1060 rural adults with hypertension or type II diabetes. Correct responses to 12 questions were summed into a total knowledge score, and participants were divided into an adequate health knowledge group (score ≥ 6) or an inadequate health knowledge group (score < 5). Logistic regression was used determine the predictors of adequate CD health knowledge.


The mean age of participants was 61.34 years (SD = 10 years). Out of a possible 12, the median score on the CD knowledge questionnaire was 3.0. About 25% of participants were classified as having adequate CD knowledge. Those who had a family history and/or long duration of CDs were more likely to have adequate health knowledge. Participants who received CD health information and self-care instructions from their physicians had 2.67 and 13.34 times greater odds of possessing adequate health knowledge than those who received no information, respectively. Adequate CD knowledge was strongly associated with regular check-ups, especially for those who attended township hospitals (OR = 40.17).


Having regular check-ups at a fixed healthcare institution and receiving health information from physicians are important measures for increasing CD knowledge among rural adults with CDs. Township hospitals are the most effective settings for health education. It is important to develop an effective community-based prevention and control mechanism for CDs. This requires township hospitals to take a leading role in improving CD knowledge among chronically ill patients, and enhancing implementation of health education in rural China.