J Epidemiol Community Health 63:986-991 doi:10.1136/jech.2008.084186
  • Research report

Psychosocial risk factors for coronary heart disease in UK South Asian men and women

  1. E D Williams1,
  2. A Steptoe2,
  3. J C Chambers3,
  4. J S Kooner3
  1. 1
    Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2
    UCL, London, UK
  3. 3
    Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr E D Williams, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK; emily.williams{at}
  • Accepted 23 April 2009
  • Published Online First 20 July 2009


Background: South Asian people in the UK and other western countries have elevated rates of coronary heart disease (CHD). Psychosocial factors contribute to CHD risk, but information about psychosocial risk profiles in UK South Asians is limited. This study aimed to examine the profile of conventional and novel psychosocial risk factors in South Asian compared with white men and women.

Methods: Using a cross-sectional population study design, psychosocial profiles were assessed in 1130 South Asian and 818 white European healthy men and women aged between 35 and 75 years, who had previously participated in a cardiovascular risk assessment programme in West London. Psychosocial factors potentially contributing to CHD risk were assessed using standardised questionnaires.

Results: UK South Asians reported significantly higher psychosocial adversity compared with UK whites. South Asian men and women experienced greater chronic stress, in the form of financial strain, residential crowding, family conflict, social deprivation and discrimination, than white Europeans. They had larger social networks, but reported lower social support and greater depression and hostility. These effects were largely independent of socioeconomic status.

Conclusion: UK South Asians experience significant psychosocial adversity compared with UK white Europeans. This is consistent with the heightened vulnerability to CHD observed in this population.


  • Funding This work was supported by the British Heart Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ealing Hospital Local Research Ethics Committee.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.