Evaluation of a cardiovascular disease risk assessment tool for the promotion of healthier lifestyles

Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2010 Oct;17(5):519-23. doi: 10.1097/HJR.0b013e328337ccd3.


Background: Although percentage risk formats are commonly used to convey cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, people find it difficult to understand these representations.

Aims: To compare the impact of providing a CVD risk message in either a traditional format (% risk) or using an analogy of risk (Heart-Age) on participants' risk perceptions and intention to make lifestyle changes.

Methods: Four hundred and thirteen men and women were randomly allocated to one of two conditions; CVD risk as a percentage or as a Heart-Age score (a cardiovascular risk adjusted age).

Results: There was a graded relationship between perceived and actual CVD risk only in those participants receiving a Heart-Age message (P<0.05). Heart-Age was more emotionally impactful in younger individuals at higher actual CVD risk (P<0.01). Self-reported emotional reactions further mediated the relationship between risk perception and intention to make lifestyle changes.

Conclusion: This study found that the Heart-Age message significantly differed from percentage CVD risk score in risk perceptions and was more emotionally impactful in those participants at higher actual CVD risk levels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Comprehension
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Perception
  • Preventive Health Services*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • United Kingdom