BMJ Open 2:e001560 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001560
  • Public health
    • Research

Public perceptions of coronary events risk factors: a discrete choice experiment

  1. James C McElnay4
  1. 1EPICORE Centre/COMPRIS, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
  2. 2Northern Ireland's Clinical Research Support Centre, Education and Research Centre, Royal Hospitals, Belfast, UK
  3. 3School of Biological Sciences, Gibson Institute for Land, Food and Environment, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  4. 4School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Prof James C McElnay; j.mcelnay{at}
  • Received 30 May 2012
  • Accepted 6 August 2012
  • Published 4 September 2012


Objectives To assess public perceptions of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors.

Design Discrete choice experiment questionnaire.

Setting Six provincial centres in Northern Ireland.

Participants 1000 adults of the general public in Northern Ireland.

Primary and secondary outcomes The general public's perception of CHD risk factors. The effect of having risk factor(s) on that perception.

Results Two multinomial logit models were created. One was a basic model (no heterogeneity permitted), while the other permitted heterogeneity based on respondents’ characteristics. In both models individuals with very high cholesterol were perceived to be at the highest risk of having a coronary event. Respondents who reported having high cholesterol perceived the risk contribution of very high cholesterol to be greater than those who reported having normal cholesterol. Similar findings were observed with blood pressure and smoking. Respondents who were male and older perceived the contribution of age and gender to be lower than respondents who were female and younger.

Conclusions Respondents with different risk factors perceived such factors differently. These divergent perceptions of CHD risk factors could be a barrier to behavioural change. This brings into focus the need for more tailored health promotion campaigns to tackle CHD.

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