Background: In order to prevent cardiac complications, young people with congenital heart disease (CHD) should conduct heart-healthy behaviours. Therefore, they are assumed to have a good understanding of their disease. However, empirical data on the relationship between disease-related knowledge and health behaviours in this population is lacking.
Aims: This study aimed (a) to describe the health risk behaviours of young people with CHD; (b) to describe their level of disease-related knowledge; and (c) to explore the relationship between the level of disease-related knowledge and health risk behaviours.
Methods: Data were collected in 429 young people with CHD. Health risk behaviours were assessed using the Health Behaviour Scale for CHD and the Baecke questionnaire. Disease-related knowledge was evaluated using the Leuven Knowledge Questionnaire for CHD. An overall health behaviour risk score, a total knowledge score and eight thematic knowledge subscale scores were calculated. Eight relationships between knowledge and health risk behaviours were tested.
Results: Patients presented moderate to good overall health behaviour. Disease-related knowledge was found to be relatively poor. Furthermore, better understanding of endocarditis was significantly associated with the performance of annual dental visits.
Conclusions: This study was the first to explore the relationship between disease-related knowledge and health risk behaviours in young people with CHD. Little evidence, however, was found to support this relationship. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of other strategies altering the health-compromising behaviours of these patients.
Keywords: Heart defects, congenital; adolescent; attitudes; health behaviour; health knowledge; practice.
© The European Society of Cardiology 2014.