Volume 10, Number 2, 2001
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Cardiovascular Health Interventions in Women:
DEBRA A. KRUMMEL, Ph.D., R.D.,
DYANN MATSON KOFFMAN, Dr.P.H.,
YVONNE BRONNER, Sc.D., R.D.,
JIM DAVIS, Ph.D.,
KURT GREENLUND, Ph.D.,
IRENE TESSARO, Dr.P.H., R.N.,
DONA UPSON, M.D.,
and JOELLEN WILBUR, Ph.D., R.N.
Women’s Cardiovascular Health Network members representing 10 Prevention Research Cen-
ters completed a literature review of approximately 65 population-based studies focused on
improving women’s cardiovascular health through behavior change for tobacco use, physical
inactivity, or diet. A framework was developed for conducting the search. Databases (Med-
line, Psychlit, Smoking and Health, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Litera-
ture) of studies published from 1980 to 1998 were searched. The review was presented at a
meeting of experts held in Atlanta, Georgia. Output from the meeting included identification
of what has worked to improve cardiovascular health in women and recommendations
for future behavioral research. Additional information is available at
Cardiovascular health interventions geared toward women are scant. Based on
the available studies, program components that emerged as effective included personalized
advice on diet and physical activity behaviors and tobacco cessation, multiple staff contacts
with skill building, daily self-monitoring, and combinations of strategies. Recommendations
for community-based tobacco, physical activity, and diet interventions are discussed. A few
overarching recommendations were to (1) conduct qualitative research to determine the kinds
of interventions women want, (2) examine relapse prevention, motivation, and maintenance
of behavior change, (3) tailor programs to the stage of the life cycle, a woman’s readiness to
change, and subgroups, that is, minority, low socioeconomic, and obese women, and (4) eval-
uate policy and environmental interventions. The effects of cardiovascular interventions in
women have been inappropriately understudied in women. Our review found that few stud-
ies on cardiovascular risk factor modification have actually targeted women. Hence, adoption
and maintenance of behavior change in women are elusive. Intervention research to improve
women’s cardiovascular health is sorely needed.
West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
: Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland.
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.