Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Health Promotion


Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Allison Ford-Wade

Second Advisor

Marie Barnard

Third Advisor

Martha Bass

Relational Format



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for men and women of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Over the past 20 years, women have experienced greater levels of CVD mortality compared to men, and specific risk factors for CVD have been identified that are unique to women, including the use of hormonal contraceptives (Corrao et al., 1990; roger et al., 2011). However, previous research has not addressed knowledge of CVD among college-aged hormonal contraceptive users. Therefore, this cross-sectional study assessed knowledge, awareness, and perceived risk of CVD among college-aged hormonal contraceptive users and non-users through the administration of an online questionnaire. Questionnaires were emailed to all 8,525 undergraduate female students and 658 completed the questionnaire (13% response rate). Of the 658 submissions, 500 met all of the qualification criteria and were used in the final data analysis. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation, and one-way anova were performed to analyze the data. An alpha level of .05 was used for all analyses. The sample (n = 500) had a mean age of 20.56 (â± 1.44), 79.4% were white, and 58.6% were hormonal contraceptive users. Half (49.2%) of participants correctly identified CVD as the leading cause of death for women. The average CVD knowledge score was 53.4%, and perceived susceptibility and perceived severity of CVD were low (m = 11.4 and 13.2 respectively). The women in this study worried twice as much about breast cancer in comparison to CVD. Moreover, hormonal contraceptive users who smoked had significantly higher knowledge scores than the non-users who were non-smokers, p = .001. Results from this study add to the body of research showing low CVD knowledge and awareness among young women. Additionally, the results from this study emphasize the importance of ensuring women are properly educated about CVD and the increased risk associated with hormonal contraceptive use. Increasing knowledge and awareness among young women may lead to the engagement in CVD preventative behaviors earlier in life, the safer use of hormonal contraceptives among all women, and further discourage women from initiating smoking.



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