Assessment of preventive health knowledge and behaviors of African-American and Afro-Caribbean women in urban settings.


N. Brown, P. Naman, P. Homel, M. Fraser-White, R. Clare, R. Browne



This report measures the extent of health knowledge and preventive behaviors of African-American and Afro-Caribbean women in New York City.


Two-hundred-twenty-one females in 10 Brooklyn-area beauty salons were surveyed in mid-June 2004. Participants completed a 30-item questionnaire (Cronbach’s alpha=0.76) focusing on six domains: heart health, breast health, prostate health, second-hand smoke, asthma and sexual health. The instrument included 10 items on preventive behaviors related to the aforementioned domains. Mean knowledge scores were calculated, and analyses were performed to evaluate the factors associated with higher knowledge scores and with greater likelihood of preventive health behaviors.


Despite a high level of knowledge about risk factors and symptoms for several common diseases, a large percentage of the sample engaged in high-risk behaviors. In addition, higher knowledge scores were associated with family history of heart disease (p=0.035), family history of prostate cancer (p=0.032) and being a member of an HMO (p=0.001). Higher scores, in turn, were associated with not currently smoking (p=0.049) and going for a blood cholesterol screening in the past year (p=0.045).


Future intervention efforts should place greater focus on educating participants about symptoms and risk factors for commonly occurring diseases in the community, and on generating behavioral changes.

J Natl Med Assoc. 2006 Oct; 98(10): 1644–1651.

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