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Knowledge and understanding of cardiovascular disease risk factors in Sierra Leone: A qualitative study of patients' and community leaders' perceptions

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Agnieszka Ignatowicz, Maria Lisa Odland, Tahir Bockarie, Haja Wurie, Rashid Ansumana, Ann H. Kelly, Chris Willott, Miles Witham, Justine Davies

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere038523
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Accepted/In press24 Sep 2020
Published15 Dec 2020


King's Authors


Objectives Prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVDRF) is increasing, especially in low-income countries. In Sierra Leone, there are no previous studies on the knowledge and the awareness of these conditions in the community. This study aimed to explore the knowledge and understanding of CVDRF, as well as the perceptions of the barriers and facilitators to accessing care for these conditions, among patients and community leaders in Sierra Leone. Design Qualitative study employing semistructured interviews and focus group discussions. Setting Urban and rural Bo District, Sierra Leone. Participants Interviews with a purposive sample of 37 patients and two focus groups with six to nine community leaders. Results While participants possessed general knowledge of their conditions, the level and complexity of this knowledge varied widely. There were clear gaps in knowledge regarding the coexistence of CVDRF and their consequences, as well as the link between behavioural factors and CVDRF. An overarching theme from the data was the need to create an understanding and awareness of CVDRF in the community in order to prevent and improve management of these conditions. Cost was also seen as a major barrier to accessing care for CVDRFs. Conclusions The knowledge gaps identified in this study highlight the need to design strategies and interventions that improve knowledge and recognition of CVDRF in the community. Interventions should specifically consider how to develop and enhance awareness about CVDRF and their consequences. They should also consider how patients seek help and where they access it.

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