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AIM: Individuals with diabetes are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). There is good evidence that this risk can be reduced by pharmacotherapies and lifestyle modification. Despite this, knowledge of CVD risk amongst individuals with diabetes remains poor. We undertook a qualitative study to investigate lay perceptions of heart attack risk amongst individuals with diabetes in order to gather information about underlying perceptions concerning risk and risk reduction strategies. METHODS: We conducted three focus groups in Oxford using an open-ended question map. Content analysis was performed to identify recurring themes, similar patterns, distinctions and supportive quotations. RESULTS: Concern about having a heart attack varied widely. A commonly held view was that a 10-year heart attack risk of 10% or greater was high and being aware of one's risk was important so that lifestyle changes or other interventions could be implemented. Participants consistently viewed physical activity as potentially harmful. Almost all participants sought healthcare and lifestyle advice from their primary healthcare providers in the first instance, preferring this to information in the lay press or government campaigns. CONCLUSION: The focus groups have allowed us to better understand lay perceptions of, and underlying assumptions about, CVD risk. These findings may be of use when discussing CVD risk and risk reduction strategies in primary care.

Original publication




Journal article


Prim Care Diabetes

Publication Date





239 - 244


Adolescent, Attitude to Health, Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Mellitus, Diabetic Angiopathies, Humans, Myocardial Infarction, Perception, Risk, Risk Factors, Risk Reduction Behavior