Differences in social support and illness perceptions among South Asian and Caucasian patients with coronary artery disease
Grace, Sherry L.
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Objective: Social support and illness perceptions may affect recovery from a cardiac event or procedure. Previous research found cardiac patients of South Asian origin have lower levels of social support and may perceive different causes of their condition. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively investigate differences in social support and illness perceptions between Caucasian and South Asian coronary artery disease (CAD) patients. Methods: 562 CAD inpatients (53 [9%] South Asian) were recruited from two hospitals. MOS social support scale and Illness Perception Questionnaire were administered to examine ethnocultural differences in total social support and subscales, and in illness perceptions subscales including causes of illness. Results: South Asian participants had significantly lower levels of tangible (p=.001) and emotional/informational support (p<.001) compared to Caucasian participants. South Asians were less likely than Caucasians to believe they have personal control over their illness (p<.001). Trends were observed with South Asian participants being more likely to attribute their condition to stress/worry (p=.04) and poor medical care in the past (p=.02), and less likely to attribute their illness to aging (p=.03) compared to Caucasian participants. Conclusions: Lower levels of social support among South Asians in Canada may have negative effects on recovery and prognosis. Our results support qualitative findings suggesting South Asians perceive their illness to be a result of fate and may be related to stress. Future studies should investigate interventions targeted at modifying illness perceptions among this group in an attempt to improve risk-reducing behaviour and secondary prevention use.