Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Joseph Robare


Having a heart healthy lifestyle at a younger age is beneficial in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in adulthood and various health education programs for CHD prevention exist to persuade young adults to adopt a heart healthy lifestyle. Little is known, however, about the influence of watching live open heart surgery on young adults' adoption of a heart healthy lifestyle. To address that gap in knowledge, this study was conducted at a health facility in Virginia where students came to observe live open heart surgery. The purpose of the study was to understand whether watching live open heart surgery can influence young adults' attitudes and behaviors towards adopting a heart healthy lifestyle. The theory of health belief model and the theory of reasoned action were used in guiding this research. A quantitative design involving observation and administration of surveys was used. A survey with questions about participants' lifestyle practices was administered prior to observation of open heart surgery and 3 or more months afterwards. A total number of 179 young adults at baseline were considered eligible for the study. Ages of the research participants were between 18 and 35 years old. The t test and ANOVA results showed no significant differences between baseline and follow up data with regards to changes in behaviors of young adult students towards adopting a heart healthy lifestyle. The study concluded that observing live heart surgery did not significantly change behaviors of the students in adopting a heart healthy lifestyle. In order to achieve the desired changes in attitudes and behavior of students, looking into other evidence based options and pursuing those that can influence and motivate young adult students to adopt a heart healthy lifestyle can be a positive social change.