Age-group differences in risk perceptions of non-communicable diseases among adults in Diepsloot township, Johannesburg, South Africa: A cross-sectional study based on the Health Belief Model
Background. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Africa (SA) occur simultaneously with an ageing HIV-positive population, resulting in premature deaths in persons <70 years of age. Poor risk perception of NCDs results in poor adoption practices of NCD preventive measures. There is a gap in age-related research regarding risk perceptions of NCDs among the SA population.
Objective. To investigate age-group differences in risk perceptions of NCDs based on the Health Belief Model.
Methods. This cross-sectional design used secondary data obtained from Community AIDS Response (CARe), Johannesburg, SA. Data were collected by means of a cross-sectional survey in Extension 2 (Blocks I, J, K and L) of Diepsloot township, Johannesburg, SA. The Pearson χ2 test of independence was used to examine the relationship between age groups and risk perceptions of NCDs. A p<0.05 value was considered statistically significant.
Results. A total of 2 135 participants were included in the analysis, of whom 71.5% were young adults (18 - 35 years). The mean age of the study participants was 32.1 (standard deviation 9.87) years. Significant associations were found between age groups and risk perceptions of NCDs. More middle-aged adults than young adults and older-aged adults perceived family history (74.00% v. 72.74% v. 62.39%, p=0.045) and smoking (83.80% v. 77.20% v. 74.31%, p=0.004) as risk factors that would increase their risk of NCDs. A higher proportion of older-aged adults than young adults and middle-aged adults perceived effects on life and family (89.91% v. 77.39% v. 75.40%, p=0.004) as risks of NCD morbidities. More middle-aged adults than young adults and older-aged adults perceived the usefulness of not smoking (84.60% v. 81.06% v. 74.31%, p=0.028) as an effective NCD preventive measure. More young adults than middle-aged and older-aged adults considered health check-ups (59.31% v. 58.00% v. 41.28%, p=0.001) as a time-consuming process to prevent risks of NCDs.
Conclusion. Young adults had poorer risk perceptions of NCDs than middle-aged and older-aged adults in Diepsloot township, resulting in poor practice of NCD preventive measures among young adults in the area. This may be due to the misunderstanding of the concept of invulnerability, possibly resulting from the limited access and exposure to NCD-related information among young adults compared with middle-aged and older-aged groups. This highlights the need to expand public health education programmes to increase outreach to the young adult population and increase accessibility to information relating to NCD risks, and encourage adoption of NCD preventive measures.