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Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing

February 2004, Volume 19 Number 1 , p 13 - 20


  • Kathryn Momtahan RN, PhD
  • Janet Berkman BSc, MSc
  • Judith Sellick RN, BHScN
  • Sharon A. Kearns RN, BScN, CPHQ
  • Nancy Lauzon RN, BA, BScN


A 1-day point-prevalence study was conducted in our 141-bed tertiary cardiac care hospital in order to determine our patients¼ and their significant others¼ level of understanding of cardiac risk factors in general and of the patients¼ personal cardiac risk factors. There were 3 parts to the study: patient interviews, significant other (SO) interviews, and an audit of the participating patients¼ charts. Of the 87 patients who were able to participate, 71 completed the interviews as did 53 significant others. From recall, only 14 patients and 11 significant others were able to define what a cardiac risk factor was ( Habits or factors that contribute to heart disease ) and they were unable to identify many general risk factors. However, when given a recognition task where cardiac risk factors were interspersed with sham factors, the overall mean general knowledge score was 13.6 for patients and 13.9 for significant others out of 16. The correlation between the patients¼ understanding of their cardiac risk factors and the significant others¼ understanding of them was reasonably good (r = 0.58, P < .0001), as was the correlation between the SOs¼ understanding and the charts (r = 0.58, P < .0001). There was less agreement between the patients¼ understanding and the chart documentation of cardiac risk factors (r = 0.36, P < .01). The findings of this study have implications for patient teaching as well as for documentation of cardiac risk factors.

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