The aim of the present study was to examine how a personal experience of illness and a family history of cardiovascular disease (CVD), adjusted for sex, level of education and nationality, affect risk behaviour. Participants were 1,011 and 1,043, 50-year-old men and women from Sweden and Poland, respectively, who were recruited from a primary health care screening programme. Family history, personal experience of illness and risk behaviour (smoking and exercise habits, BMI level) were self-reported. The results showed that smoking behaviour was affected by a personal experience of illness but not by a family history of CVD. No effects of these variables were found on the remaining risk-related variables tested in this study. These results suggest that individuals with a personal experience of illness may be more inclined to change smoking behaviour than the average person. Smoking prevention strategies may therefore benefit from targeting this group in particular.
2009. Vol. 17, no 1