The publics’ perspective on cardiovascular risk information : Implications for practice

Abstract: Lay people struggle to understand the implications of cardiovascular risk information. With new advanced testing techniques and the digitalization of personal health information, the communication of cardiovascular risk becomes a challenge. The overall aim of the thesis was to investigate the publics’ perspective of cardiovascular risk information through a multi-method approach, including how individuals perceive risk, factors affecting an underestimation of risk, how cardiovascular risk communication affects individuals’ psychosocial health, and their preferences for risk communication. In study I, research participants’ perceptions about risk information were explored in five focus group interviews. The participants’ (n=31) perceptions about cardiovascular risk were complex, where multifactorial aspects were disregarded. The communication of cardiovascular risk information did not meet the participants’ need for understanding, support, and guidance regarding what to do with this information. Study II was a before-after investigation regarding the impact of cardiovascular risk information on research participants’ health-related quality of life and mental distress. Increased worry and anxiety were observed in individuals referred to hospital because of coronary artery stenosis. Study III was a cross-sectional study, which found that individuals with a very good or excellent self-perceived general health and individuals without a family history of CVD were more likely to underestimate their cardiovascular risk compared to participants with poor or fairly good general health and without a family history. Study IV was a cross-sectional study, investigating the preferences of the Swedish population for communication of cardiovascular risk information from a health checkup using a Discrete Choice Experiment. Besides cost, consultation time was the most important aspect when communicating cardiovascular risk. The findings suggest that cardiovascular risk communication does not reach its fullest potential when it comes to recipients’ perspective of the benefits of CV risk communication. Improvements should aim at increasing the recipients’ personal control and health literacy and furthermore, acknowledge the fact that self-perceived risk is influenced by how a person feels in general and experiences of family history.