Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Jacqueline Fraser


Heart disease has been the primary cause of death among both men and women in the United States. More African American women are developing and dying from heart disease than any other ethnic group; yet, they are less likely than European American women to know that they have the major risk factors for heart disease. The purpose of this study was to determine the overall knowledge and health beliefs about heart disease among African American women. Five health belief model constructs of perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, and cues to action were applied as the theoretical framework for the study. Linear multiple regression was used to analyze the association between participants' (a) knowledge of heart disease risk factors, (b) knowledge of heart attack symptoms, (c) perceptions of personal risks for heart disease, and (d) demographic background and their awareness of heart disease. Snowball sampling was used to recruit participants. E-mail, LinkedIn, and Facebook invitations with the American Heart Association Women's Health Study Google doc was sent to all family, friends, and associates who met the criteria for participation (N = 389). Results showed that the variables of African American women's knowledge of heart disease risk factors, perceptions of personal risks for heart disease, age, and family history of heart disease were statistically associated with awareness of heart disease. The positive social change implications include bringing more awareness of heart disease to African American women and encouraging them to have heart health dialogue with their friends and family.