Vol.2, No.6, 557-565 (2010) Hea lth
Copyright © 2010 SciRes . Openly accessible at h ttp:/ /w ww.scirp.org / journal /HEALTH/
Health, lifestyle and health care utilization among health
Paul A. Bourne1*, Lilleth V. Glen1, Hazel Laws1, Maureen D. Kerr-Campbell2
1Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica; *Corresponding Author: paul-
2Systems Development Unit, Main Library, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica
Received 2 February 2010; revised 22 February 2010; accepted 26 February 2010.
Health care workers are responsible for the ex-
ecution of the health policy of a nation, yet little
if any empirical evidence is there on health,
lifestyle, health choices, and health conditions
of health care workers in the rural parish of
Hanover, Jamaica. The current study examines
health, lifestyle and health behaviour among
health professional in Hanover. The current
study has a sample of 212 respondents. A 26-
item questionnaire was used to collect the data.
Data from the questionnaires were coded and
entered into a micro-computer and analysis
done using SPSS for Widows Version 15.0 soft-
ware. The Chi-square test was used to test as-
sociation between non-metric variables. A p-
value < 0.05 (two-tailed) was selected to indicate
statistical significance. It was found that 16.0%
of respondents had diabetes mellitus (2.8% of
males compared to 19.8% females); 22.6% had
hypertension (25.5% of female and 12.8% of
males); 0.5% breast cancer; 0.5% stomach
cancer; 1.9% enlarged heart; and 0.5% ischemic
heart disease. Forty-three percentage points of
the sample was overweight, 33.5% obese and
24.1% had a normal weight. Over 15% of nurses
and doctors were obese compared to 38% of
ancillary staffers. Twenty percentage points of
respondents consume alcohol on a regular ba-
sis; 15.6% do no regular physical exercise,
42.4% add sweetening to their hot beverages,
and 4.7% were smokers. There is a need for
public health practitioners to formulate a health
intervention programme that will target people
in Hanover, but also specific groups such as
doctors, nurses, administrative, ancillary sta-
ffers and technical staffers.
Keywords: Health Care Workers; Health; Lifestyle;
Health Choices; Health Behaviour; Hanover;
Empirically, it is well established that poverty and illness
are positive associated with each other and that 80% of
all chronic illnesses were in low-to-middle income
countries [1-3]. Sen [1] encapsulated this well when he
stated that low levels of unemployment in the economy
is associated with higher levels of capabilities, suggest-
ing that poverty predisposed people to illnesses. The
World health organization (WHO) [2] reported that 60%
of global mortality is caused by chronic illness and
four-fifths of chronic dysfunctions are in low-to-middle
income countries. This concurs with Sen’s finding that
poverty does not only predisposed people to illnesses but
that it accounts for premature mortality.
In many developing countries, the living standards of
low income households could be improved by improving
health services [4]. The lack of resources available for
use by the government of Jamaica to address poverty in
a significant way negatively impacts health care. There
is a significant statistical correlation between poverty
and illnesses in Jamaica [5,6]. A study by Bourne [5]
found: 1) a positive correlation between not seeking
medical care and poverty (r2 = 0.58), 2) a positive corre-
lation between poverty and unemployment (r2 = 0.48),
and 3) an inverse correlation between mortality and po-
verty (r2 = 0.51). These findings do not substantiate the
findings in the literature of the correlation between pre-
mature mortality and poverty. Despite Bourne’s findings,
the level of poverty in Jamaica was 9.9% in 2007. This
was 15.3% in rural areas compared to 6.2% in urban and
4.0% in peri-urban area [7]. Another important finding is
that rural residents indicated the highest percentage
points of illness (17.3%) compared to urban (14.1%) and
P. A. Bourne et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010 ) 557-565
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peri-urban residents (13.9%).
Although premature mortality was empirically not
found using the data for Jamaica, the positive correlation
between poverty and illness is present and cannot be
ove rlooked as there are public health challenges owing
to this reality. Jamaica an English-speaking Caribbean
nation is a developing country. In 2007, it had a popula-
tion of 2,682,120 people (49.3% males); 75% black and
13% mixed; a growth rate of 0.47; 10.9% elderly popu-
lation (i.e., 60+ year old); a crude death rate of 6.4 per
1,000; crude birth rate of 17.0 per 1,000 [8]; income
inequality of 0.4 (Gini coefficient); and 71.3% of the
poor lived in rural areas [7]. The country is geographical
divided into 14 parishes and three counties (Cornwall,
Middlesex and Surrey). Cornwall covers the Western
belt which includes parishes such as Westmoreland, Ha-
nover, St. James and St. Elizabeth. Middlesex constitutes
the middle proportions of the island with parishes such
as Clarendon and St. Catherine. Surrey comprises the
Eastern region with parishes such as Kingston, St. Tho-
mas and Portland. Cities accounts for 27.3% of the pop-
ulation, peri-urban 30.2% and rural areas, 42.5% in
With 43 out of every 100 Jamaicans resided in rural
areas and those areas have 15.3% of the poverty, public
health policy makers are concerned about health care
and behaviour among rural residents. Hanover has the
smallest percent of the nation’s population (2.6%
69,660, in 2007), with one urban centre (i .e., Lucea) [9].
Lucea, the capital of Hanover is home to about 5,951
people. The parish of Hanover therefore is substantially
rural, and the people rely on tourism, agriculture and
seasonal employment for their economic livelihood. Al-
though Hanover is rural and shares many of the eco-
nomic challenges of rural zones, little if no information
is available about health, lifestyle practices and health
care seeking behaviour of the residents. Since public
health agencies relies on research information to make
inform decision that can effectively aid in improving the
health of a population, then it follows that pertinent in-
formation is needed on residents of Hanover in order to
enhance public health capability on the parish. Most if
not all the health information on Hanover is from the
Ministry of Health (MOH) which only produce standard
curative statistics (i.e., health service utilization; mortal-
ity; health care expenditure; health care resources; mor-
bidity) [10-12]. The findings from this study will add
value to the existing literature by examining health in-
formation on persons in the parish. This was done by
examining health, lifestyle and health behaviour among
health professional in Hanover in order to understanding
choices, decision and health among its residents, with
the purpose of aiding policy formulation and health in-
tervention programmes for the parish.
2.1. Sample, Sampling Methods and Setting
We selected a representative sample of people from Ha-
nover’s health institutions, which had sufficient num-
bers to represent the people of the parish. The MOH in
Jamaica sub-divided the country into 4 regional adminis-
trative authorities (RHAs): the South-East (SERHA);
South (SRHA); North-East (NERHA), and Western
(WRHA). The NERHA covers four parishes—Hanover,
Westmoreland, St. James and Trelawny. Another classi-
fication of the island is statistical one based on Enume-
ration Districts (EDs). The Planning Institute of Jamaica
(PIOJ) and Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN)
used Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) as its sampling
frame from which it design surveys of the national pop-
ulation [7]. A PSU is an ED or a composition of EDs,
usually consisting of 100 dwellings in a rural area and
150 dwellings in urban areas [7]. STATIN further refined
required dwellings by stating that up to 400 households
constituted a PSU [9]. The EDs are independent geo-
graphical units which share common boun- daries with
contiguous EDs. In keeping with a sampling error of ±
3% and a confidence interval of 95%, the calculated
population for selection was 280 respondents. In another
survey, the researchers used 36 persons per ED to calcu-
late a representative sample of the nation [13,14]. Ha-
nover has 4 PSUs, which means that using 36 persons
per ED the sample should be 144. Hence, based on pre-
vious surveys, the current study is sufficient to general-
ize on the parish because it is has representative sample
size [13,14]. The current sample of 212 respondents
represents 0.3% of the population of the parish of Ha-
nover (in 2007; n = 69,660). For this study, the sample
was stratified by area of work, area of residence, and a
Kish Random Selection Method of sub-sampling was
used to select the actual respondents thereby facilitating
independence of response [15]. On occasions when an
individual was selected and could not participate, no
other person was used to replace the individual. In cases
where the selected person was not available a minimum
of three call-back visits would be made to that person’s
place of work. The response rate was 75.7%, of which
1.3% of the data were lost during data cleaning. This is
in keeping with surveys conducted by PIOJ and STATIN
[7], and Wilks et al. [14]. For the survey study 77.8% of
the sample was female, which is similar to that reported
by Wilks et al. [14] in which the female sample was
2.2. Questionnaire Reliability
P. A. Bourne et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010 ) 557-565
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Test-retest reliability of the questionnaire was conducted
for a month (i.e., February 2008) prior to the main study.
The instrument was vetted by academics from the Uni-
versity of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. Then 20 res-
pondents who were non-participants (i.e., health profes-
sional in Westmoreland Health Services) in the main
study were interviewed on two separate occasions ap-
proximately 7 days apart. The reliabilities were deter-
mined by the percentage of agreement. Modifications
were made to the final instrument based on the recom-
mendations, queries and issues raised by the participants
in order to attain clarity and conciseness of questions.
A 26-item questionnaire was used to collect the data.
The instrument was sub-divided into general demo-
graphic profile of the sample; family history; health
seeking behaviour; chronic illnesses, perception on
prostate examination and choice of method in prostate
2.3. Measure
Regional Health Authorities: Decentralization of public
health care the shifted the central government (i.e., MOH)
into four semi-autonomous regional bodies: South-East,
North -East, Western, and Southern.
Standardized instruments were used to record partici-
pant’s weight (in kilograms) and height (in squared me-
tres). The body mass index (BMI) is the weight in kg
divided by height in m2. The classification of the World
Health Organization was used in this study. The BMI
was classified as normal, overweight and obese.
Normal BMI is defined as 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.99 kg/m2.
Overweight BMI is defined as 25.00 kg/m2 to 29.00
kg/m2 and obese BMI is defined as 30.00 kg/m2. Risky
behaviour denotes unhealthy health choices such as
smoking, alcohol consumption, infrequent exercise, poor
dietary habit and food choices. The participants’ health
status was measured using BMI categorization.
Technical staffers include trained personnel such as
dental nurses, health educators, nutritionists and public
health inspectors, contact investigators, pharmacists, and
lab technicians.
The technical support staff comprises community
health-aides, psychiatric aides, ward assistants, porters,
mosquito spray men and community peer educators.
Administrative staffers constitute administrator, parish
manager, personnel officer, and matron. The administra-
tive support staff comprises accountants, security per-
sonnel, medical records officers, secretaries, drivers,
telephone operators; cashiers and clerks. The ancillary
staffers are cleaners, cooks and gardeners.
2.4. Data Analysi s
The data were double entered using SPSS, verified and
cleaned. Data was stored, retrieved and analyzed, using
SPSS for Windows (16.0). Percentages were used to
provide background information on demographic cha-
racteristics on sample, knowledge of prostate and self-
reported information on prostate. Chi-square tests were
utilized to examine whether statistical associations ex-
isted between non-metric dependent and independent
variables. A p-value of 5% (i.e., 95% confidence interval)
will be used to determine statistical associations between
2.5. Ethics
This study sought and was granted ethical approval by
the University of the West Indies, Mona, Ethics Com-
mittee. All participants gave written consent, and they
were informed of procedures and the choice of with-
drawal at any time convenient to them if they so desire.
The data received from the participants is reported below.
A sample of 212 respondents was interviewed for this
study: females, 77.8%; blacks, 90%; single, 46.7%; ter-
tiary level education, 39.8%; full-time employed, 86.8%;
religious, 97.6%; nurses and doctors comprised of 22.3%
of the sample (Table 1). Forty-seven percentage points
of the sample were Seventh Day Adventist and Pente-
costal members; 42.5% were overweight, 33.5% obese
and 24.1% had a normal weight.
In Table 2 which reports information on particular
self-reported diagnosed health conditions, 16.0% of res-
pondents had diabetes mellitus; 22.6% had hypertension;
0.5% breast cancer; 0.5% stomach cancer; 1.9% en-
larged heart and 0.5% ischemic heart disease.
In Table 3 which reports information on the lifestyle
behaviour of respondents, 20.3% of respondents con-
sumed alcohol on a regular basis; 15.6% do no regular
physical exercise, 42.4% add sweetening to their hot
beverages, and 4.7% were smokers.
A significant statistical relationship exists between
BMI categorisation and occupation of the persons in the
study (P < 0.01). Just over 15% of nurses and medical
doctors were obese compared to 38.2% of ancillary staf-
fers (Table 4). In Table 5, of the 178 respondents who
indicated that they do some form of physical activity per
week over the survey period, 52.3% spent at least one
hour on the activity. Of the different typology of occupa-
tion, technical support staff had the lowest percentage
points of engagement for at least one hour (20.0%); with
administrative support staff recorded the greatest en-
gagement of 1 hour or more in physical activity (63.5%).
On disaggregating the aforementioned demographic,
Table 1. Demographic characteristics of sample.
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Characteristics n %
Male 47 22.2
Female 165 77.8
Black 191 90.0
Burmese 1 0.5
Indian 5 2.4
Mixe d 15 7.1
Marital status
Single 99 46.7
Married 80 37.7
Common-law 14 6.6
Widowed 4 1.9
Divorced or separated 5 7.1
Primary or below 11 5.2
Secondary 116 55.0
Tertiary 84 39.8
Employment status
Employed 184 86.8
Unem ployed 25 11.8
Not stated 3 1.4
Yes 207 97.6
No 5 2.4
BMI categorization
Normal 71 33.5
Overweight 90 42.5
Obese 51 24.0
Nurses and doctors 45 22.3
Other technical staffers 28 13.9
Technical support staff 56 27.7
Administrative staffers 10 5.0
Administrative support staff 29 14.4
Ancillary 34 16.8
Age Mean (SD) 41.0 years (11.8)
Table 2. Self-reported diagnosed chronic health conditions.
Characteristics n %
Diabetes mellitus
Yes 34 16.0
No 178 84.0
Yes 48 22.6
No 164 77.4
Yes 1 0.5
No 211 99.5
Yes 1 0.5
No 211 99.5
Enlarged heart
Yes 4 1.9
No 208 98.1
Ischemic heart disease
Yes 1 0.5
No 211 99.5
health and lifestyle characteristic of the sample, 2.8% of
those with diabetes mellitus were males compared to
19.8% females. Of the diagnosed diabetics, the majority
were ancillary staffers (36.4%); 45.5% were 40 to 49
years old; and 36.4% were 31 to 45 years old (χ2 =
10.577, P < 0.005).
Of the 22.6% of the sample who had hypertension,
25.5% were female and 12.8% were males. The highest
percentage points of the sample that had hypertension
were 31 to 45 years old (47.9%), 27.1% were at least 45
years old, and 6.3% were unable to recall the age when
they were first diagnosed with hypertension. When oc-
cupation of respondents was disaggregated by diagnosed
hypertensive cases, technical staffers recorded the high
percentage points of cases (33.9%) followed by ancillary
staffers (32.4%); nurses and medical doctors (22.2%);
administrative staffers (20.0%) and administrative sup-
port staff (13.8%) (χ2 = 15.375, P < 0.0001). Concur-
rently, a statistical relationship existed between over-
weight respondents and hypertensive respondents (P <
No significant statistical association was found be-
tween BMI categorisation and gender of respondents (χ2
= 3.793, P = 0.150). However, a significant relationship
Table 3. Lifestyle behaviour.
P. A. Bourne et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010 ) 557-565
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Characteristics n %
Smoking behaviour
Smoke 10 4.7
Do not smoke 202 95.3
Regular alcohol consumption
Yes 43 20.3
No 169 79.7
Physical activity (i.e. , exercise)
None 33 15.6
1 2 times a week 100 46.7
4 6 time a week 61 29.0
7 times a week 18 8.7
Dietary habits
Special dieting 49 23.0
Eat anything 163 77.0
Adding sweetening to hot beverage
Yes 90 42.4
No 122 57.6
Breast examination
Mo nthly 69 42.0
Rarely 31 18.4
Never 65 39.6
Leisure time activity
Sitting watching TV/reading 73 34.2
Cycling 30 14.2
Gardening or farming 56 26.4
Playing indoor games (chess, scrabble,
domino, etc) 35 16.5
Regular physical activity (i.e., exercise) 18 8.7
Rectal examination
Yes 10 4.7
No 30 14.2
Did not answer 172 81.1
How do you prepare or eat meat
Eat no meat 29 13.7
Fried 71 33.3
Stewed 55 26.0
Baked 12 5.9
Jerked 45 21.1
Table 4. BMI categorisation by occupation.
BMI categorisation
Normal Overweight Obe se
% % %
Nurses/doctors 33.3 57.1 15.6
Other technical staff 46.4 42.9 10.7
Technical support staff 28.6 37.5 33.9
Administrative staff 50.0 40.0 10.0
Administrative support staff
41.4 44.8 13.8
Ancillary staff 20.6 41.2 38.2
P < 0.01
existed between BMI categorisation and self-reported
diagnosed health condition (P < 0.0001). Disaggregated
the smoker cohort revealed that 57.1% consumed be-
tween 1 to 9 cigarettes per day, and that males were
more likely to be smokers (57.1%) than females
Significant more males regularly consume alcohol
(12.6%) than females (9.1%) (P < 0.0001). However,
more females (47.9%) than males (13.3%) indicated that
they were regularly engaged in physical activities (or
exercise). The age cohort that indicated the most en-
gagement in physical activity was 60+ year olds (67.1%).
Of the 60+ year olds who are engaged in regular physi-
cal activities, 13.7% indicated that they do so every day
over the survey period. The percentage of other age co-
horts and their engagement in physical activities were 50
to 59 years (59.1%); 30 to 39 years (56.5%) and 40 to 49
years (54.5%).
Of the 34.2% who indicated sitting watching televi-
sion or reading as their leisure activities, 65% did this on
a daily basis and 18% between 4 to 6 times per week.
Furthermore, 43% of overweight respondents were en-
gaged in sitting and watching television or reading as
their leisure activities compared to 32% of those who
were obese. Concurrently, 17% of females were engaged
in sitting and watching television or reading as their lei-
sure activities compared to 8.3% of males. Forty-three
percent of overweight respondents were 40- 49 years old
and 24.1% of the obese were in this age cohort.
Of the respondents who indicated being on a special
dietary programme (23%), 35.4% were on low salt;
25.2% vegetarians; 16.8% weight loss; 12.4% low fat;
4.0% weight gain and 6.2% were on low cholesterol
programme. Health care workers in Hanover prefer to
consume fried meats, and this was mostly higher among
those younger than 20 years (50.0%) followed by those
50-59 years (49.0%) and those 40-49 years (31.3%) as
Vol.2, No.6, 557-565 (2010) Hea lth
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Table 5. Physical activity (in duration of time per day) by occupation.
Physical activity (in duration of time per day)
Tot al
< 15 minutes
15 29 mi-
30 44 minutes 4559 minutes > 1 hr
n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%)
Nurses/doctors 6 (16.2) 7 (18.9) 3 (8.1) 1 (2.7) 20 (54.1) 37 (20.8)
Other technical staff 3 (13.0) 6 (26.1) 3 (13.0) 1 (4.3) 6 (43.5) 19 (10.7)
Technical support staff 4 (40.0) 3 (30.0) 1 (10.0) 0 (0.0) 2 (20.0) 10 (5.6)
Administrative staff 5 (18.5) 6 (22.2) 2 (7.4) 0 (0.0) 14 (51.9) 27 (15.2)
Administrative support staff 5 (9.6) 7 (13.5) 2 (3.8) 5 (9.6) 33 (63.5) 52 (29.2)
Ancillary staff 2 (6.1) 2 (6.1) 9 (27.3) 2 (6.1) 18 (54.5) 33 (18.5)
Total, n 25 31 20 9 93 178
well as the those 20-29 years (31.3%). Ancillary workers
were most likely to consume fried meats (68%) com-
pared to any other occupational group. Twenty five per-
cent of the same had fruit juice (17.5% had it 2-3 times
daily; 11.3% had it occasionally), and 49.5% had soda
(57.1% had it occasionally; 14.3% daily and 1.9% 6 days
per week). Twenty nine percent had vegetables daily,
23% 2-3 times per week and 0.5% never had vegetables.
On general health care-seeking behaviour, 28% of
female respondents indicated having visited a health care
provider in the last 6 months for breast examination.
There was no significant statistical association between
breast examination and occupation (P > 0.05); BMI (P >
0.05) and health conditions (P > 0.05). The majority of
the females had done a pap smear (75%). Of those who
indicated that they had not done a pap smear, the highest
were among administrative staff (42.9%) followed by
other technical staff (35.7%); administrative support
staff (31.2%) and the least by technical support staff
(12.2%). Forty percent of female have not done a breast
examination compared to 62.9% of males who had never
had a rectal examination. A significant relationship ex-
isted between rectal examination and occupational type
(P < 0.0001). The percentage points of males who had
never done a rectal examination by occupational type
can be disaggregated as technical support staff, 87.5%;
administrative support staff, 60.1%; other technical staff,
55.6%. Furthermore, the highest number of males who
had not done a rectal examination was among those 50
to 59 years old (69.2%).
This study examined the lifestyle, health and the use of
health care services of some health care workers in the
parish of Hanover, Jamaica. Generally, the health status
of people who are employed to health institutions in
Hanover is good, but when this was disaggregated into
occupational types more information was revealed that
indicated worrying signs for health care in the future.
Using BMI categorisation to measure health status, the
findings revealed that 34% of employees were classified
as having normal weight, 43% overweight and 24% ob-
ese. Apart from the afore-mentioned findings, 16.0% had
diabetes mellitus, 22.6% hypertension, 0.5% breast can-
cer, 0.5% stomach cancer, 1.9% enlarged heart and 0.5%
ischemic heart disease. Concurrently, 22% of men had
done a rectal examination for prostate cancer, 60% of
women had done a breast examination, 77% indicated
that they eat every and/or anything, 42% added swee-
tening to their hot beverage, 5% were smokers and 16%
do no physical activities and 34% indicated that their
leisure time was spent sitting watching television and/or
reading. The disaggregation of BMI by occupation re-
vealed that most doctors and nurses were at least over-
weight (73%); other technical staff (54%); technical
support staff (71%) and those in the ancillary categoriza-
tion were most likely to be in the overweight category
In 2007, statistics from the PIOJ and STATIN [7] re-
vealed that 12% of Jamaicans had diabetes mellitus and
22% had hypertension. On disaggregating the figures,
8% of males had diabetes mellitus compared to 14% of
fem ales, and 16% of males had hypertension compared
to 27% of females. Although 1.3 times more people in
the current study had diabetes mellitus compared to the
P. A. Bourne et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010 ) 557-565
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population, disaggregating the figures by sexes revealed
a remarkable difference. In the current study diabetes
mellitus disparity between the sexes was 7.1 times
(males, 2.8%; females, 19.8%) compared to 1.8 times in
the national survey. With respect to hypertension, there
was no difference between the percentage of those with
diabetes in the country and health workers in Hanover.
There are no available statistics on diabetes mellitus and
hypertension by occupational type in the literature, and
therefore the findings from this study provides this val-
uable information. The findings showed that hyperten-
sion was not greater among females than males; but it
was also highest among those 31-45 years and among
technical support as well as ancillary staffers. Both tech-
nical support and ancillary staffers are among the poor,
which concurs with the literature that poverty is asso-
ciated with more illness as concur by the findings of this
study [2,15-17].
This study highlighted that there was no statistical as-
sociation between gender and BMI categorization, how-
ever one existed for BMI and self-reported diagnosed
health condition. Low socioeconomic status is empiri-
cally established as having more people with illness, but
the current study further shows that they were more
likely to be obese than those who are more likely to be in
the middle-to-upper class. The study also revealed that
34% of those in the technical support staff and 38% of
those in ancillary staff category were obese and these
persons are in the low socioeconomic status compared to
16% of medical doctors and nurse who are mid-
dle-to-upper class individuals. Despite this finding, it
can be inferred that the schedules of medical doctors and
nurses in addition to their and lifestyle may account for a
significant percent of them being at least overweight.
This has implications for the future of the health sectors
as overweight and obesity are associated with increased
risk of morbidities and mortalities.
The sedentary lifestyle of health care professionals in
Hanover may lead to a public health problem which may
become worse in the future if not addressed. The health
behaviour of the persons in the study is also a cause for
concern and although their lifestyle is a sedentary one,
they make more unhealthy lifestyle choices than healthy
ones. It is clear from the findings that education,
knowledge of health and health care are not influencing
the decision of health care providers in Hanover. The
fi ndings concur with a study which showed that
non-comm unica ble diseases are largely apart of the life-
style of Jamaicans, and that 50% of deaths were owing
to non-communicable diseases such as heart, stroke,
diabetes mellitus, cancers and obesity [18]. A study in by
O’Connell and Gray [19] found that four-fifths of those
with stroke had high blood pressure when they were
taken to hospital for treatment post-stroke, and that
two-thirds of them had a history of hypertension. A later
study by Woo et al. [8] found that untreated hyperten-
sion was a significant risk of hemorrhagic stroke (i.e.,
OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 2.3, 5.2; P < 0.0001), and that
treated hypertension was significantly lower in causing
hemorrhagic (OR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.0 to 1.9; P = 0.03).
The WHO revealed that obesity was associated with
health problems such as respiratory difficulties, chronic
musculoskeletal problems, skin problems and infertility
[20], indicating the pending public health challenge in
the health sectors in Hanover.
In 2000, the Jamaica Lifestyle Survey revealed that
8% of Jamaican had diabetes mellitus (96.1% of males
and 9.1% of females) and that the most cases were
among the elderly (i.e., 60 + years) [21], which reiterate
the health problem challenge that Hanover faces and
speaks to the role of culture and low socioeconomic sta-
tus influencing the healthy lifestyle choices of residents
in Hanover. Morrison [22] in an article entitled ‘Diabetes
and hypertension: Twin Trouble’ showed that diabetes
mellitus and hypertension have now become the two
major chronic non-communicable diseases thus health
problems for Jamaicans and in the wider Caribbean. This
finding was also corroborated by Callender [23] who
found that there is a positive association between di-
abetic and hypertensive patients (i.e., 50% of individuals
with diabetes had a history of hypertension), which em-
phasizes the public health problem of unhealthy health
workers in Hanover.
When the sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy lifestyle
choices, and low socioeconomic status are coupled with
the fact that the sample is relatively middle-aged to old
(i.e., mean age was 41.0 years), it was observed that with
the increased risk of morbidities and disabilities asso-
ciated with ageing, the health of individuals in this study
becomes exacerbated by the unhealthy diet, alcohol
consumption, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle.
While the prevalence of smokers among residents and
health workers in Hanover (4.7%) are lower than the
national figures (17.7%), the percentage points of male
smokers in this was 2.3 times more than the prevalence
in the national (24.8%) and this was 5.9 times more fe-
males in this sample compared to the national figures
The fact that the majority in each category of health
care workers are obese is a worrying finding. Instructing
patients to take care of their health in an environment
where healthcare workers are overweight including
nurses and medical doctors may cause patients to ignore
the information they receive from health care staff.
There is an area for future research. Another area for
future research should be an examination of the reasons
P. A. Bourne et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010 ) 557-565
Copyright © 2010 Sc iR es. Openly accessible at h ttp:/ /w ww.scirp.org / journal /HEALTH/
why some health care workers particularly the profes-
sionals who have years of education, knowledge, expe-
rience and training become engaged in unhealthy life-
style practices. Once the reasons for the poor lifestyle
choices of health care workers that affect their health are
understood, further research is necessary on the content
and procedures that are required for a strategic and ef-
fective national health literacy communication pro-
gramme. This programme should be cognizant of the
fact that education and knowledge about health does not
automatically influence the educated knowledge holders’
behavior in a positive way. There is also need for re-
search on how training and wellness programme for
health care workers on the job including medical doctors
and nurses would influence the choices they make about
their health.
The current study has revealed pertinent information on
the perception of health care workers about healthy life-
style, health choices and general perception of residents
in Hanover on their health. Smoking, obesity, over-
weight, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy
lifestyle practices and low socioeconomic status in-
creased the risk of cardiovascular diseases in health
workers in Hanover and this is further complicated by
hypertension, diabetes mellitus and unhealthy choices.
The level of health education is greater among health
workers than non-health care workers which indicate
that the pending health problems in Hanover would have
been understated by the current study. There is a need for
public health practitioners to formulate a health inter-
vention programme that will target people in Hanover
including specific groups such as medical doctors,
nurses, administrative, ancillary staffers and technical
staffers in health care institution in the parish of Hanover.
Clearly education and knowledge of health do not lead
to better and healthier choices by health care workers in
Hanover, and this could be a general social dilemma as
the general populace may be left to use home remedy if
premature mortality were to befall those high risk health
workers in Hanover. Then, there is reality of an increase
burden of health care workers in Hanover on the health
care services in the future, which would increase health
care expenditure for the country.
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