Heart disease risk perception in college men and women

J Am Coll Health. 2003 Mar;51(5):207-11. doi: 10.1080/07448480309596352.


The authors sought to assess the perception of risks for coronary heart disease (CHD) in college men and women. They surveyed 470 undergraduates from 2 major 4-year institutions who completed a questionnaire that measured perceived risks for heart disease. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents rated their risks as lower or much lower than those of their peers, indicating a clear optimistic bias. The research also revealed that the students who exercised regularly rated their risk of coronary disease lower than those who did not do so. In addition, women perceived a number of risk markers to be more potent or causative factors than men did. A significant number of participants did not comprehend commonly understood causal relationships associated with heart disease risk. The findings in this preliminary investigation suggest that college men and women do not accurately perceive their risks for developing heart disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Universities*