Ethnic and gender differences in perceptions of mortality risk in a Canadian urban centre

Int J Gen Med. 2008 Nov 30;1:41-50. doi: 10.2147/ijgm.s3797.

Abstract

Background: Women reportedly do not perceive heart disease (HD) as a major threat to their health; however, men's perceptions are rarely studied.

Purpose: We explored gender and ethnic differences in risk perception of HD mortality.

Methods: The survey was completed by 976 people 40+ years of age, in metropolitan Vancouver, Canada.

Results: Men, compared with women, were more likely not to know the answer to a question about whether HD is the most common cause of death for women; however, women were more likely not to know the answer to a question about whether HD is the most common cause of death for men. Chinese-Canadian and South Asian-Canadian participants were more likely than participants of other ethnic groups not to know the answer to either question, and the Chinese-Canadian participants were more likely to disagree that HD is the most common cause of death for women.

Conclusion: There is a need to educate the Chinese-Canadian and South Asian-Canadian communities about HD as a first step in promoting health behavior change. Men and women must be educated about the other gender's risk of HD because all adults play integral roles in making decisions about the prevention of and early intervention for HD.

Keywords: ethnic groups; gender; heart disease; mortality; risk assessment.