Building cardiovascular disease competence in an urban poor Ghanaian community: A social psychology of participation approach

Ama de-Graft Aikins, Mawuli Kushitor, Sandra Boatemaa Kushitor, Olutobi Sanuade, Paapa Yaw Asante, Lionel Sakyi, Francis Agyei, Kwadwo Koram, Gbenga Ogedegbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes conceptual, methodological, and practical insights from a longitudinal social psychological project that aims to build cardiovascular disease (CVD) competence in a poor community in Accra, Ghana's capital. Informed by a social psychology of participation approach, mixed method data included qualitative interviews and household surveys from over 500 community members, including people living with diabetes, hypertension, and stroke, their caregivers, health care providers, and GIS mapping of pluralistic health systems, food vending sites, bars, and physical activity spaces. Data analysis was informed by the diagnosis-psychosocial intervention-reflexivity framework proposed by Guareschi and Jovchelovitch. The community had a high prevalence of CVD and risk factors, and CVD knowledge was cognitive polyphasic. The environment was obesogenic, alcohol promoting, and medically pluralistic. These factors shaped CVD experiences and eclectic treatment seeking behaviours. Psychosocial interventions included establishing a self-help group and community screening and education. Applying the “AIDS-competent communities” model proposed by Campbell and colleagues, we outline the psychosocial features of CVD competence that are relatively easy to implement, albeit with funds and labour, and those that are difficult. We offer a reflexive analysis of four challenges that future activities will address: social protection, increasing men's participation, connecting national health policy to community needs, and sustaining the project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-440
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Ghana
  • cardiovascular disease
  • community health competence
  • participation
  • task shifting
  • urban poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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