Nearly 500 people with hypertension participated in the study, which aimed to better understand how patients conceptualize the cause of their high blood pressure in order to develop educational materials that improve patient self-care.
Patients’ perceptions about the cause of their hypertension are important because these beliefs influence their learning about the disease, the strategies that they choose to manage it and how well they adhere to treatment, said Elise A.G. Duwe, the lead author of the study. She is an M.D./Ph.D. candidate in sociology in the Medical Scholars Program at the University of Illinois.
“Understanding patients’ illness representations is particularly important for older adults because they are more likely to manage multiple chronic illnesses and have lower health literacy,” Duwe said. “An in-depth understanding of their illness representations opens up the possibility for developing cognitive interventions in patient education.”
The majority of patients – about 95 percent – are diagnosed with essential hypertension, which has no identifiable biomedical cause, Duwe said. “Still, patients come up with a cause to assist their conceptualization of the illness and their behavior” in relation to it.
The Arizona participants were at least 65 years old and taking at least one prescribed anti-hypertensive medication daily. Their counterparts in Illinois were at least 60 years of age and also had been diagnosed with hypertension prior to the study.
Participants were asked about the cause of their hypertension in an open-ended question on the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire, a nine-item scale used to assess patients’ cognitive and emotional representations about their illnesses.
Using participants’ responses, the researchers identified six causal categories: behavioral, natural, physical, psychosocial, supernatural and other.
Behavioral causes included actions under a person’s control, while natural causes represented inherent and unchangeable characteristics such as family history, genetics and age.
Physical causes included variable and environmentally responsive characteristics, such as weight, diabetes and cholesterol.
Psychosocial causes involved the social and psychological environments surrounding a person while supernatural causes represented spiritual sources, such as God, destiny or fate.
If participants responded that they didn’t know the cause of their hypertension, or if they left the answer blank, the cause was coded as “other.”
Participants in the Arizona sample mainly attributed their high blood pressure to natural causes (36 percent) – that is, to inherent and unchangeable characteristics beyond their control, such as genetics.
Arizona participants were split over the remaining causes, with psychosocial factors – which included stress related to family and work – narrowly beating out physical causes (25 percent and 24 percent, respectively).
However, Illinoisans mainly attributed their hypertension to physical origins (33 percent), followed by natural causes (25 percent), and psychosocial causes (22 percent).
Illinoisans were twice as likely as their counterparts in Arizona (18 percent versus 9 percent, respectively) to attribute their hypertension to behavioral causes, which included factors under their control, such as diet, exercise and smoking.
The disparity between the two samples relative to behavioral causes may have occurred because the Illinois sample contained a higher percentage of men – 49 percent, versus 25 percent in the Arizona sample. Prior research has shown that men are more likely to believe that their high blood pressure is linked to their behavior.
Minorities, who composed 20 percent of each sample, were more likely to attribute their hypertension to psychosocial and behavioral causes, while white participants more frequently indicated natural and physical causes.
Arizona participants’ higher levels of health literacy and education – 76 percent had a high school education or greater versus 58 percent of the Illinoisans – may explain why they were more likely to view natural causes, the most biomedically accurate explanation, as the primary source of their hypertension, the authors wrote.
The co-authors of the study: Daniel G. Morrow, a professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and in the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, at Illinois; and, Kathleen C. Insel, a professor in the Behavioral Science Division, and Kari M. Koerner, research specialist, both at the University of Arizona College of Nursing.Illinois students Nikki A. Falk and Anna M. Madison also contributed to the research.
Editor’s note: To contact Daniel Morrow, call 217-244-1828; email email@example.com. To contact Elise A. G. Duwe, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharita Forrest | University of Illinois
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences