Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Psychology, Clinical-Community

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Kamila White


Kamila White, Ph.D.

Steven Bruce, Ph.D.

Ann Steffen, Ph.D.

Philip Ludbrook, M.D.


Adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD) are a new and growing medical population. While medical interventions previously focused on reducing rates of infant mortality, current research suggests increased risk of premature mortality in ACHD may be partially due to acquired cardiovascular disease. One lifestyle intervention to reduce acquired cardiovascular risk is physical activity. Physical activity has been supported in the research as a safe, efficacious, and tolerable intervention for many ACHD; however, most patients do not engage in recommended levels of physical activity. The purpose of this study was to investigate psychological factors related to physical activity in ACHD. Participants were recruited from social media websites and research groups for ACHD. Results indicate approximately three-quarters of the total sample achieved or exceeded physical activity guidelines. A majority of participants reported prior conversations with their treating medical providers about risk for acquired cardiovascular disease and physical activity. Each psychological factor, including cognitive and emotional factors, was significantly related to physical activity except perceived susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and heart-focused attention. A hierarchical linear regression suggests Protection Motivation Theory is an appropriate theoretical framework to conceptualize physical activity in ACHD. These findings can inform patient self-management of disease and acquired disease prevention as part of comprehensive ACHD healthcare.