Change in Public Perspective on Cholesterol and Heart Disease: Results From Two National Surveys

Beth Schucker, Kent Bailey, James T. Heimbach, Margaret E. Mattson, Janet T. Wittes, Carol M. Haines, David J. Gordon, Jeffrey A. Cutler, Virginia S. Keating, Ronald S. Goor, Basil M. Rifkind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md, and the Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC, sponsored two national probability telephone surveys (N = 4000) of adults to assess attitudes and knowledge about heart disease risk from high blood cholesterol levels and the public’s efforts to lower blood cholesterol levels. The first survey was conducted in 1983, before release of the results from the Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial, which showed that a reduction in the blood cholesterol level reduced coronary heart disease; the second survey was conducted in 1986. The percentage of adults who believed that reducing high blood cholesterol levels would have a large effect on heart disease increased from 64% in 1983 to 72% in 1986, so that the importance attached to reducing high blood cholesterol levels approached that attributed to reducing smoking and high blood pressure. In 1983,35% of adults reported that they had their cholesterol level checked vs 46% in 1986. In both years, diet changes were most frequently chosen (>60%) as ways to control the blood cholesterol level; reducing dietary fat was believed to be as important as reducing dietary cholesterol. By 1986, 23% of adults reported that they made dietary changes specifically to lower their blood cholesterol level, up from 14% in 1983. These comparative data show gains in public awareness and action relating to high blood cholesterol level risk. The data can be used to develop education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3527-3531
Number of pages5
JournalJAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 25 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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