237983 Optimistic bias and cardiovascular disease risk factors among African American youths

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monique S. White, MPH, PhD , Project Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
Mary Lou Gutierrez, PhD , Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
Clifton C. Addison, PhD , Jackson Heart Study/Project Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
Brenda W. Jenkins, MPH, PhD , Jackson Heart Study/Project Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
Background: Optimistic bias influences behavior of youth causing them to underestimate their susceptibility to negative health outcomes. This false belief about one's vulnerability to the multitude of health risk factors could result in at-risk individuals ignoring the preventive actions that could reduce their chances of contracting diseases prematurely. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore adolescent behavior practices, examine the prevalence of high blood pressure and obesity, and the relationship to optimistic bias. Significance: This study can help to highlight areas of deficiencies in children's daily practices, their attitudes, and behaviors that can be improved to promote cardiovascular health. Methods: 433 African American high school students were administered a survey and had their obesity and blood pressure measured by the school nurse. Descriptive statistics were used to examine optimistic bias and health outcomes. Three-way cross-tabulations of optimistic bias by clinical outcome (BMI and Blood Pressure) by gender was tested using the chi-square statistic. Results: Two-thirds of the students did not perceive themselves to be at risk of developing cardiovascular disease despite presence of clinical risk factors for hypertension and obesity, with males at greater risk than females. Conclusions: Lifestyle changes for many young people are recommended, and reducing health optimistic bias among youth is viewed as an effective way of motivating young people to adopt more positive behaviors. Schools should implement intervention programs that promote positive health behavior among youth to develop individual responsibility as well as to reduce health disparities.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1.To identify the impact of optimistic bias on adolescent health status. 2.To demonstrate the need for lifestyle changes among youth.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have participated in all phases of this research and I am aware of all of its contents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.