A Gender Specific Educational Pilot Program to Improve Women's Awareness About Heart Disease and Their Risk

Debra Lee Campo, Rhode Island College


Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. While public health campaigns have made great progress improving women's awareness of heart disease as the leading cause of death, most women do not understand the magnitude of cardiovascular risks. Some women are not aware that heart disease is the greatest threat to their health and to the health of their loved ones (Thanavaro, Moore, Anthony, Narsavage, & Delicath, 2006). Women continue to have longer delays in seeking medical treatment and have a higher mortality/morbidity rate when compared to men. Disparities also continue to persist among racial/ethnic and lower socio-economic groups {Christian, Rosamond, White, & Mosca, 2007).The purpose of this pilot educational program was to increase women's knowledge and awareness about heart disease, its risk factors, and personal risk by empowering them with the knowledge to choose healthier lifestyles for themselves and their family. The program targeted women over the age of eighteen and the accessible population for this health promotion program was the female staff at an assisted living community located in Northern Rhode Island and their guest. The program consisted of four educational interventions delivered once a week for four weeks. While attending all sessions was encouraged, it was not mandatory. Although attendance was small, the results from pre and post tests demonstrated that a small, nurse led intervention led to dramatic improvement in knowledge level of all participants. The Advanced Practice Public Health Nurse {APPHN) plays a key role in the fight against CVD. As diabetes, obesity, and life expectancy continue to rise, a competent workforce will be needed to educate and promote the cardiac health of the population. As specialists in community health nursing, APPHN's practice in a variety of settings and are uniquely positioned to have a wide range of influence, making them a key force in meeting this challenge.