Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if gender differences exist in attempts to change cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor behaviors, specifically cigarette smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and overweight, and if the success of these attempted behavior changes also differs by gender in the Pawtucket Heart Health Program (PHHP). Methods: The risk factors were considered in reference to individuals who needed to change a particular risk factor behavior. Data were gathered from three different sources within the PHHP (the contact card registry of participants and both cross-sectional and cohort household surveys). Results: Women were much more likely than men to participate in PHHP risk factor programs related to smoking, exercise, or weight loss. Women were also more likely than men to self-report making attempts to change these risk factor behaviors. Men self-reported to have a greater percentage of long-term smoking cessation success than women, although men and women had similar success rates related to weight loss and increasing physical activity. Men who reported being at least 20% overweight at baseline achieved significantly greater self-reported weight loss when followed up about 8.5 years later than women who were overweight at baseline. Conclusions: More research needs to be done to find ways to help women become more successful at modifying CVD risk factor behaviors. In addition, emphasis must be placed on ways to help men initiate and increase the number of attempts they make to change these same risk factor behaviors.
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