Background: An international survey was conducted to assess public awareness and attitudes to coronary heart disease and to establish the frequency with which certain health-related behaviours are practised in five European countries.
Methods: Members of the general public (n=5013), individuals at increased risk of coronary disease (n=2500), patients who had suffered a myocardial infarction (n=1256) and members of their families (n=1249) were interviewed in a study conducted in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK. Questions were asked about respondents' attitudes to their health and about their current health practices.
Results: The survey revealed a considerable degree of indifference to coronary heart disease, despite the possession of a reasonable level of knowledge of the risks involved, even among patients who had suffered a myocardial infarction. At the same time, respondents declared themselves satisfied with the quality of advice about coronary health that they obtained from the medical profession and regarded these sources of information as highly credible. Media health campaigns, by contrast, had comparatively little impact.
Conclusion: A survey of five European countries shows that individuals possess reasonable levels of knowledge about coronary heart disease. They also have access to sources of heart health information that are perceived as highly credible. Nonetheless, such information has a very limited impact on their practice of health-related behaviours.