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H. Baharoon1, J. King1
1University of Ottawa, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ottawa, Canada

Background: Adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours to prevent cardiovascular diseases is the goal of cardiac rehabilitation programs. Cultural and religious beliefs have been considered challenges that influence the adoption of healthy behaviours among immigrants in host countries. However, cardiac rehabilitation secondary prevention programs rarely consider individuals' cultural and religious backgrounds to support individuals in changing healthy lifestyle behaviours. There is a limited knowledge base regarding cultural and religious beliefs among Arab Canadians with a history of cardiac events or cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Purpose: This study aims to describe acculturation, religious/spiritual beliefs and coping strategies, perceived stress, and healthy lifestyle behaviours among Arab people diagnosed with cardiac events or at high risk for cardiovascular diseases living in a large urban centre in Canada.  

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted with 63 individuals diagnosed with cardiac events or at high risk for cardiovascular diseases from local Arab communities. Participants completed, either in English or Arabic, a sociodemographic questionnaire and five validated questionnaires that evaluated the level of acculturation, religious/spiritual beliefs and coping strategies, perceived stress, and healthy lifestyle behaviours. Data collected were analyzed using SPSS. All sociodemographic information was analyzed using descriptive statistical analysis based on frequencies and proportions for categorical variables and by using means with standard deviations for continuous variables.

Results: Of the 63 participants, 38% were women, 62% were men. From this sample, 87% were 45 years old or older. The majority of participants were Muslim, with only two Christian participants. All participants were born outside Canada, 59% were immigrants, 62% of participants had lived in Canada for more than 15 years. 21 participants had suffered a cardiac event, and 42 participants had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease risk factors. Data indicate that most participants are more oriented toward their Arabic culture than Canadian culture, as the total mean score of acculturation-Arabic dimension was 5.26 (SD = 0.42) compared to 3.48 (SD = 0.82) for the acculturation-Canadian dimension. Participants tend to be religious as the mean positive religious coping score was 3.82 (SD = 0.20) versus negative religious coping score was 1.30 (SD = 0.34). Participants’ nutrition behaviours were healthier than physical activity behaviours as participants paid more attention toward nutrition (M = 2.48, SD = 0.58) than physical activity (M = 1.76, SD = 0.64). However, age, gender, or interestingly, length of time living in Canada did not affect participants’ results in any of the questionnaires.

Conclusion(s): While these individuals may be more religious and less acculturated in the Canadian culture, their lifestyle health behaviours related to physical activity and nutrition may be influenced by their health status, religious beliefs, and practices or traditions from their culture of origin.

Implications: As physiotherapists who provide care to people in multicultural environments in many parts of the world, we need to consider patients' cultural/religious beliefs and practices and try to incorporate these practices into patient-centred interventions.
To further understand religious coping and the impact of culture or acculturation have on rehabilitation following cardiac events, a qualitative study will be conducted with participants.

Funding, acknowledgements: Self-funding

Keywords: Lifestyle Behaviours among Arab, Religion/Culture, Cardiovascular Diseases

Topic: Health promotion & wellbeing/healthy ageing/physical activity

Did this work require ethics approval? Yes
Institution: University of Ottawa
Committee: Research Ethics Board at the University of Ottawa
Ethics number: H12-17-04

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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