Cardiovascular (Framingham) and type II diabetes (Finnish Diabetes) risk scores: a qualitative study of local knowledge of diet, physical activity and body measurements in rural Rakai, Uganda

Robert Ssekubugu, Fredrick Makumbi, Rocio Enriquez, Susanne R. Lagerström, Ping Teresa Yeh, Caitlin E. Kennedy, Ronald H. Gray, Lilian Negesa, David M. Serwadda, Godfrey Kigozi, Anna Mia Ekström, Helena Nordenstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular conditions and diabetes are rising in sub-Saharan Africa. Prevention strategies to mitigate non-communicable diseases include improving diet, physical activity, early diagnosis, and long-term management. Early identification of individuals at risk based on risk-score models – such as the Framingham Risk Score (FRS) for 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease and the Finnish type 2 Diabetes risk score (FINDRISC) for type 2 diabetes which are used in high-income settings – have not been well assessed in sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively assess local knowledge of components of these risk scores in a rural Ugandan setting. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with a purposively selected sample of 15 participants who had responded to the FRS and FINDRISC questionnaires and procedures embedded in the Rakai Community Cohort Study. Data were summarized and categorized using content analysis, with support of Atlas.ti. Results: Participants described local terms for hypertension (“pulessa”) and type 2 diabetes (“sukaali”). Most participants understood physical activity as leisure physical activity, but when probed would also include physical activity linked to routine farm work. Vegetables were typically described as "plants", “leafy greens”, and “side dish”. Vegetable and fruit consumption was described as varying seasonally, with peak availability in December after the rainy season. Participants perceived themselves to have good knowledge about their family members’ history of type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Conclusions: While most items of the FRS and FINDRISC were generally well understood, physical activity needs further clarification. It is important to consider the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, especially in rural resource-poor settings. Current risk scores will need to be locally adapted to estimate the 10-year risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes in this setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2214
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Cardiovascular
  • Finnish diabetes risk score
  • Framingham risk score
  • NCD 10-year risk scores
  • Qualitative
  • Type II diabetes
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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