Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Among Rural Dwelling Older African American Women




rural, community, older adults, underserved


Background: Limited information is available about the perceptions of older African American (AA) females living in the rural “Black Belt” and their high-risk status for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Our study aims to understand this population’s perceptions about their CVD risk factors, needs, and preferences regarding health services that would be feasible and acceptable for this population.

Methods: This is a thematic analysis of the qualitative study. We interviewed 11 AA women above 65 years of age, residing in the community setting of rural Alabama, having at least two CVD-related risk factors. We excluded participants with impaired cognition and/or any suicidal ideation. The participants were interviewed to better understand their perceptions about the CVD-related risk factors prevalent among older AA women living in their communities and to better understand what acceptable strategies would be to improve the prevention of these risk factors in the future. The responses from participants were recorded, transcribed, reviewed, coded, and reduced into dominant themes based on concepts that emerged from the interviews. The member check process validated the findings. We shared a report of the findings and interpretations with the participants of this study to check the validity of the findings from the data analysis process.

Results: We recruited the individuals who met the study criteria and volunteered to participate in this qualitative study (N =11). The interviews were conducted till we reached data saturation. The interview data were coded, and these concepts were categorized under common themes that emerged from the data. The common themes were CVD risk factors, non-adherence to treatment, barriers to healthcare in the community, lack of community health programs, suggested strategies for intervention and community preferences, and available resources/facilitators for community-based heart health programs.

Conclusion: Our findings gave us greater insight into the perceptions of AA women residing in the rural areas of the Black Belt regarding common CVD risk factors among them, their barriers to heart health services, and facilitators for community-based heart health programs. These findings suggest conducting a large-scale study to collect objective data about this population's heart risk factors and their needs to inform the development of heart health services for this underserved, at-risk population.

Keywords: rural, community, older adults, underserved.


Author Biographies

  • Mudasir Andrabi, PhD, RN, University of Alabama

    Assistant Professor, Capstone College of Nursing

  • Mercy Mumba, PhD, RN, CMSRN, University of Alabama

    Associate Professor,  Founding Director of the Center for Substance Use Research and Related Conditions

    Capstone College of Nursing

  • Betty Key, Ed.D, RN, Shelton State Community College

    Director of Nursing Programs

  • Kelvin Ovabor, MSc, BSc, University of Alabama

    Graduate Student, College of Engineering

  • Chen Lin, MD, University of Alabama

    Associate Professor, Comprehensive Stroke Center

  • Fatima Leghari, MEd, University of Alabama

    Graduate Student, College of Education

  • Karleene Ball, Ph.D., University of Alabama

    Professor, Schools of Arts and Sciences