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Information for researchers: Sub-sample Studies

Lay theories of coronary heart disease (Marsha Gray)

The aims of this PhD study were to find out whether young people with a family history of coronary heart disease are more aware of risk factors, and more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle, than people with no such history.

Interviews were conducted with 24 respondents (8 with a family history of death from coronary heart disease, 8 with a family history of illness from coronary heart disease, and 8 with no such family history) from the 1970s cohort in the localities in 1993.

Main findings:

  • No differences were found in the lifestyles (smoking, drinking, diet, physical activity) of cases and controls, though conclusions were limited because of very small numbers.


  • All young people expressed a wide range of views about risk factors, indicating quite high levels of awareness, with some evidence of greater awareness (e.g. of heredity) among the coronary heart disease history group. However, although a few subjects linked this to a change in lifestyle others interpreted this to mean nothing could be done.


Gray, M. (1993). Does health "inheritance" affect health behaviour? Department of Public Health. Glasgow, University of Glasgow.