Chronic diseases among African Americans in Southeastern Virginia: a pilot study

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st rose m & wilson r (2009) Journal of Nursing and Healthcare of Chronic Illness1, 156–166

Chronic diseases among African Americans in Southeastern Virginia: a pilot study

Aims and objectives.

The aim of this study was to explore chronic diseases, such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, overweight and obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV in African Americans residing in Southeastern Virginia and to determine whether socio-economic factors correlate with chronic diseases, health-related behaviors, access to health care and health screening.


In the United States, approximately 90 million people are living with chronic diseases, which accounts for 70% of American deaths. These conditions affect all racial groups; however, African Americans suffer the most from these diseases.


A descriptive exploratory design with survey methodology.


The random sample consisted of 150 African American households from one city and one county in Southeastern Virginia. A health survey questionnaire was used to conduct face-to-face interviews with the respondents.


The study found a high prevalence of hypertension and smoking. The majority of respondents reported that they sometimes eat foods high in sugar, salt, and fat and cholesterol. Only 9·2% stated that they read food labels all of the time for nutritional information and the majority (31%) did not read the labels at all. Almost 81% of respondents had health insurance coverage and reported the doctor's office as the main source of care. Income inversely correlated with diabetes, high sugar intake, and high fat and cholesterol, but positively correlated with health insurance and smoking. Education inversely correlated with stroke and alcohol consumption, but positively correlated with physical activity, health insurance and routine health checkup.


The study provided a foundation for other efforts when addressing chronic diseases.

Relevance to clinical practice.

Recognizing groups of people at risk for chronic diseases can help to alert health professionals when establishing community-based interventions to promote healthy diet and nutrition, smoking cessation and decrease the number of people with hypertension.

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