Fatalism and short-termism as cultural barriers to cardiac rehabilitation among underprivileged men

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Abstract

Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of death and disability in Canada, and individuals of low socioeconomic status appear particularly vulnerable to such disorders. Although many health-related institutions have promoted cardiovascular health and have created cardiac rehabilitation programmes, they have not attained their desired outcomes, especially amongst socioeconomically deprived men. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's sociocultural theory, this qualitative study aims to understand the social mechanisms underpinning the lifestyles and health practices of men who had suffered a cardiovascular incident requiring hospitalisation. In all, 20 interviews were conducted with francophone men aged 40 to 65 years living in the province of Québec, Canada. The analysis strongly suggests that the respondents' living conditions and disease were significant obstacles to their adoption of a healthy lifestyle. Their despair and pessimism, apparently originating in the harshness of their financial realities, physical limitations and social networks, led them to believe that they could do little to control their lives, thereby limiting the fulfillment of any long-term ambitions. Therefore, the adoption of a habitus characterised by fatalistic and short-term perceptions of health influenced their lifestyle choices, leading them to maintain lives that were in stark contrast with the recommendations made by health promotion experts.

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